Supervisors set April 17 as public hearing date for FY24 County Budget

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, March 27 to address a full agenda of matters including the Public Hearing for the County Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Maximum Levy/Property Tax Dollars, consideration of a vehicle purchase for Environmental Health, and consideration of bids for an asphalt project on Yellow River Drive. The meeting was called to order by Board of Supervisors Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley present.

The meeting moved into Public Comment with Ray Mullarkey of Lansing discussing possible changes relating to local option sales tax (LOST) at the County level proposed by the State of Iowa through new legislation. Byrnes noted a recent letter to the editor submitted to The Standard, published on page 13 of the Wednesday, March 22 edition, in which he addressed this matter. Byrnes provided further background, advising that LOST was approved by Allamakee County voters in 2008 which added 1-percent to the State sales tax of 6-percent, allowing for a 7-percent sales tax, with that 1-percent LOST funding to be distributed locally where it is needed within the county where it was collected. Byrnes added that voters again approved this measure in 2014 with ballot language specifying the use of LOST funds. This matter is scheduled to be on the ballot again in 2024. Byrnes advised that Senate Study Bill 1125 would eliminate LOST while increasing State sales tax to 7-percent, with the State of Iowa determining the use of the additional 1-percent sales tax. Relating to the impact of LOST, Byrnes noted that close to $1 million is raised and distributed as 40-percent to townships to help fund services including fire and ambulance, 30-percent for rural services including law enforcement, and 30-percent for secondary roads. He further explained that the State’s rationale may be to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a funding source for conservation and natural development projects in Iowa, which he noted was passed in 2010 but has yet to receive any funding. Byrnes noted that the State of Iowa may provide some funding through backfill in support of the County-level needs currently supported by LOST, but the State’s backfill would likely result in a reduction in funding for the County. He further advised that individuals may choose to contact their legislators relating to this proposed change. Byrnes further noted the negative impact of this legislation on townships within Allamakee County with LOST funding being designated for specific township needs. Waukon City Manager Gary

Boden questioned whether Byrnes’ letter to the editor has been forwarded to State Legislators. Byrnes advised that it has not yet been sent with Keatley noting a recent meeting with Mike Breitbach, Representative Michael Bergan of Iowa House District 63, Representative Anne Osmundson of Iowa House District 64, in addition to representatives of Farm Bureau. Keatley noted the discussion that took place with information relating to the use of LOST funding used by townships being presented to those in attendance at that meeting. Boden, Mullarkey and the Supervisors further discussed concerns relating to the State’s proposed legislation changing local control of LOST funds.

The meeting moved into the Public Hearing for County Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Maximum Levy/Property Tax Dollars. The Public Hearing was opened with Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer providing an overview of the notice published in the newspaper relating to this matter. Beyer noted the proposed changes include a 2.11% increase in Requested Tax Dollars – General Services and a 2.12% decrease in Requested Tax Dollars – Rural Services. Beyer noted that approximately $8 million in tax funding is raised between General Services and Rural Services with Byrnes further providing specifics advising those totals include General Services at $5,682,262 and Rural Services at $2,411,631. Beyer noted that no written or verbal comments have been received relating to this matter. The Public Hearing was then closed.

The consideration of the Resolution approving the FY24 County Maximum Property Tax Dollars was next addressed. That Resolution was approved as presented.

The Supervisors next approved setting the date and time for the Public Hearing for the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) County Budget. Beyer provided a recommendation to set the Public Hearing date and time as Monday, April 17 at 9:40 a.m. That recommendation was approved by the Supervisors.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Stephanie Runkle presented information relating to four plat requests including James R. Evanson, Roger C. and Sheryl K. Peterson, Donald J. Schulte, and Regan Sweeney and Regan, LLC. Each request was individually reviewed and approved.

Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody discussed the next matter relating to the purchase of a vehicle for Environmental Health. Moody noted that if a vehicle purchase is approved, the 2008 Chevy Trailblazer currently used by her department would be used by Runkle moving forward. Moody discussed sport utility vehicle purchase options for this replacement to be used for travel on rough roads and terrain for a variety of duties relating to the Environmental Health Department. She provided a recommendation to purchase a 2023 Jeep Cherokee Altitude Lux at a total of $38,250 from Torkelson Motors in Waukon, with that recommendation to purchase being approved.

The meeting moved into the consideration of bids for the asphalt project on Yellow River Drive. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour noted that this matter refers to the asphalt resurfacing with milling of over four miles of W4B/Yellow River Drive between W60/Old Stage Road and X16/Forest Mills Road. He advised that information was sent to 11 contractors with a Notice to Bidders relating to this project appearing in the March 15 edition of The Standard.

Reiser opened the single bid that was received from River City Paving, a division of Mathy Construction, advising that the bid bond was in order with the project total bid at $1,271,583.94. Ridenour advised that he would review the bid and provide a recommendation at the next Supervisors meeting. No action was taken.

Ridenour also addressed the next matter relating to the consideration of detouring traffic onto County Roads due to the Waukon Memorial Day Parade. He noted that the Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for Monday, May 29 with the City of Waukon previously having approved the detour route. The Supervisors approved the Memorial Day Parade detour route.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker noted that this week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, which is recognized by the State of Iowa and the National Weather Service. He added that a statewide tornado drill is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29 at 10 a.m. with the six cities within Allamakee County to set off sirens as part of this exercise with County offices, facilities and the Courthouse scheduled to participate in the tornado drill.

Snitker noted that a test message will be sent out to Alert Iowa emergency notification subscribers and that County office phone numbers are being added to the Alert Iowa notification system.

Snitker also made note of the next Emergency Management Commission Meeting which he and Keatley will be attending. He further noted that storm spotter training, through the National Weather Service, will be taking place in April with Snitker clarifying that this training involves fire and law enforcement personnel. He also updated the Supervisors about the National Weather Service’s Flood Outlook noting that colder than usual temperatures have resulted in the delay of snow melt to the north, resulting in a heightened possibility of flooding on the main stem of the Mississippi River.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed ongoing work with a vendor relating to emergency radios associated with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ School Safety Initiative. Mellick noted that the Sheriff’s Department and this vendor will be working with schools and police departments throughout the county relating to the installation of these emergency radios. He discussed ongoing training relating to severe weather awareness in addition to noting that some staff are completing the 20-hour jailer training online. Mellick discussed the scheduling of vehicle purchases and delays relating to manufacturers. Mellick and the Supervisors discussed differences relating to special service vehicles and similar vehicle models available on car lots.

Moody updated the Supervisors about several matters, noting that a refresher course relating to automated external defibrillator (AED) use and first aid may be advisable for County employees. Moody agreed to follow up with a contact relating to this training.

Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Coordinator Jean Bossom discussed ongoing work associated with a young adult and youth-focused program relating to vaping issues to include vouchers for nicotine replacement. Bossom noted that she recently received additional information from Beyer relating to the statewide opioid lawsuit settlement funds to be used in funding prevention programming, community education, medical provider education and drug disposal programs. She further discussed potential uses of the opioid settlement funding and the pursuit of additional grants. Bossom noted that there is a small number of prescription drug lock boxes still available in her office for individuals needing to secure prescriptions in their home.

Ridenour noted that the road rock letting date is Monday, April 3 until 10 a.m. He provided an update relating to several projects including the proposed borrow pit to fill and cap the Alliant Energy ash ponds at Power Plant Road, south of Lansing. Ridenour noted that an upcoming Board of Adjustment meeting may need to be moved to the courtroom to accommodate the number of individuals expected to be in attendance.

Beyer advised that work continues relating to the budget process and the submission of Agland credit and Family Farmland credit information to the State of Iowa, among other daily work performed by her office. Byrnes noted that the Supervisors and Beyer would continue with review of claims and budget work prior to adjournment.