Allamakee County Board of Supervisors approves disallowance of military property tax exemption, hears updates at regular meeting held in Lansing

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, September 18 at the Meehan Memorial Library in Lansing as part of the board’s annual schedule of library visits within the county. The Supervisors addressed a short agenda of matters including the consideration of County credit card use by the Environmental Health Department, the disallowance of a military exemption and the scanning project for County Courthouse building blueprints. The meeting was called to order by Board of Supervisors Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley present.

During Public Comment, Jim Hitchins of rural Lansing discussed a proposed driveway for increased safety and improved vehicle access to his property allowing a steep portion of a secondary county road off Mays Prairie Drive to be bypassed. Hitchins further discussed the steep incline and safety issues associated with this secondary road and his request to have the County assist with the culvert cost. Byrnes advised that the matter will be added to a future agenda after conferring with Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour relating to this proposal.

Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) noted that Entrepreneurship Week is September 18-22 with a variety of guest speakers and presentations scheduled daily sponsored by Lansing Office Works and ACED.

With time remaining during the Public Comment portion of the meeting, Library Director Derva Burke noted that 17 three-year-old children are enrolled in the preschool program housed at the library, with those classes and activities taking place in the library basement. Burke further noted that the Friends of the Library group applied for and was awarded a grant to allow for the continued digitization of newspapers which are available online. Burke advised that previously, newspapers from 1863-1924 were digitized, with the new grant funding of approximately $7,600 to allow for newspapers from 1925-2003 to be digitized and posted online.

Burke also provided a brief update relating to the Black Hawk Bridge replacement project noting that Clayton Burke, Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) overseeing engineer, will be living in Lansing over the next four years due to his work on this project. She noted that Clayton Burke and a few others involved in logistics and the early stages of the bridge replacement spent time in the library a couple days last week performing work using the library’s wi-fi internet access.

Byrnes questioned Derva Burke about the library’s traffic with Burke noting that traffic has not yet rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. She discussed the availability of physical books and online resources through the library and that the availability of computers and wi-fi internet access have been important resources to the community. Burke noted that a small per page fee is charged for printing information or documents using the library’s available computers and printer.

The meeting moved into the discussion and consideration of the County credit card use by the Environmental Health Department. Byrnes advised that Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody had previously advised that this credit card use would be beneficial due to the billing cycle not coinciding with the shipping of water samples, which has resulted in late fees and time spent making refund requests relating to those late fees.

Byrnes further advised that the Allamakee County Board of Health recently met, with that board’s consensus being to allow this credit card use to avoid late fees, if the Board of Supervisors is also in agreement relating to this matter. Following discussion, the Supervisors approved the Environmental Health Department’s use of the County credit card on an ongoing basis, not to exceed $150 monthly.

The Supervisors next addressed the consideration of the disallowance of a military exemption not included in a previous listing. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed a recent communication with Allamakee County Assessor Ann Burckart relating to the exclusion of French Creek Farms LLC on a previously approved list of homestead and military property tax exemptions. Beyer clarified that as a limited liability company (LLC), an ownership status and change recently discovered relating to this property, the military tax credit is no longer allowed. Following review, the Supervisors approved the disallowance.

The meeting moved into the discussion and consideration of the scanning project for Allamakee County Courthouse building blueprints. Beyer noted that one vendor has provided a quote for the scanning of the courthouse blueprints to have as a back-up in case the original documents were destroyed due to fire or natural disaster. Beyer further noted that the vendor’s quote expires at the end of September with a quote from local vendor The Copy Shoppe/JaDecc’S not yet provided.

Beyer advised that The Copy Shoppe is looking into purchasing a larger scanner to complete projects like this in-house as an alternative to outsourcing the scanning of large documents. Byrnes further advised that this back-up is not immediately urgent with his recommendation being to allow additional time for The Copy Shoppe to provide a quote for this service. Reiser and Keatley were in agreement with the recommendation by Byrnes with no official action necessary relating to this matter.

The meeting next moved into City of Lansing updates. In the absence of City of Lansing representatives, Burke briefly discussed the Lansing Fire Department (LFD) ATV/UTV Ride held Saturday, September 16. She advised that through social media, it has been shared that 396 ATV/UTVs were registered and that the LFD should be commended for its work in organizing the trail ride which traveled through some private property with the cooperation of property owners. Burke further advised that the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department should be thanked for its work relating to traffic control in helping make this fundraising activity possible.

For the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library update, Burke made note of programming including legal aid services for senior citizens.

Under Department Head updates, Beyer discussed a recent training and education event held in Des Moines relating to House File 718 which covers a variety of matters associated with property taxes and budgets. She advised that preliminary calculations and determining the impact upon the County budget will be part of the review of this update. Beyer noted that election preparation work is ongoing with letters to be sent out to election workers.

Prior to adjournment, the Supervisors toured Lansing Custom Homes.