Supervisors begin collective bargaining process in relation to upcoming union negotiations, approve 2024 holiday schedule for County offices

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, November 27 to address a full agenda of matters including the consideration of the 2024 Holiday Schedule for County Offices, discussion of collective bargaining relating to union negotiations, and consideration of ending the probationary period and approving a wage increase for an employee in the County Auditor’s office.

The meeting was called to order by Supervisors Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley present. There was no Public Comment during the time allotted for that agenda item.

The meeting moved into the collective bargaining discussion relating to upcoming union negotiations with attorney John Anderson present to address this matter. Anderson noted that he would be providing an update relating to this process with the County Sheriff’s office having all aspects of its union agreement on the table for negotiation and the County Secondary Road Department having the full benefit of the collective bargaining agreement with wages being the only obligation that is required for these negotiations.

Anderson noted the retirement of Business Agent Dan Macdonald with the Teamsters Local 238, with Business Agent Jeanne Austin now in that role. Anderson further noted the additional provisions of the Sheriff’s office agreement that will need to be discussed and negotiated. Relating to wages, Anderson questioned if employee retention and recruitment are matters to be considered in developing a proposal with health insurance costs being a factor to be discussed prior to the negotiation process.

Anderson noted that under collective bargaining laws, the Supervisors have the option to go into closed session for discussion with legal counsel. Keatley and Reiser both noted being new to this process with each having been elected following the last union negotiation and collective bargaining agreement. Anderson discussed the timeline of this process to include an exchange of proposals, often accomplished via email, with an initial discussion or exchange of proposals taking place in open session with the subsequent negotiations allowed in closed session. He further noted that an agreement with the union would ideally be reached in late January or early February and if not, requirements dictate looking into mediation or arbitration with aspects of counties of comparable size and population to be reviewed in this process.

The Supervisors next moved into closed session to discuss strategy for the upcoming Collective Bargaining Negotiations as authorized by Section 20.17(3) Code of Iowa and exempt from Chapter 21 requirements.

Due to the length of the closed session, both Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke and Coordinator Jean Bossom with Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) were no longer present due to other previously scheduled commitments. The discussion and consideration of the Opioid settlement funds distribution was tabled until the next Supervisors meeting.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Stephanie Runkle was no longer present due to another previously scheduled commitment, but Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody provided an overview of four Plat requests in Runkle’s absence. The Harlan E. and Carole J. Yohe plat request was approved. No action was taken relating to the remaining three requests including the Donald Kerndt Trust plat, the James A. and Catherine A. Gelo plat, and the Dennis J., Donald and Randy Troendle plat, with the Supervisors requesting clarifications relating to each of these matters prior to making a decision.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer provided an overview of the next agenda item relating to the consideration of the 2024 Holiday Schedule for Allamakee County Offices. Beyer noted recent communications with the Clerk of Court relating to that office’s holiday schedule. She said that Allamakee County’s proposed schedule matches the holidays and closure dates used by the Clerk of Court’s office, providing consistency for all office hours within the Allamakee County Courthouse. The Supervisors approved the holiday schedule.

The 2024 Holiday Schedule for Allamakee County Offices is as follows:
• Monday, January 1, 2024 - New Year’s Day
• Monday, January 15 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
• Friday, March 29 - Good Friday
• Monday, May 27 - Memorial Day
• Thursday, July 4 - Independence Day
• Monday, September 2 - Labor Day
• Monday, November 11 - Veterans Day
• Thursday and Friday, November 28 and 29 - Thanksgiving
• Tuesday and Wednesday, December 24 and 25 - Christmas
• Wednesday, January 1, 2025 - New Years Day.

The meeting moved into the consideration of ending a probationary period and approval of a wage increase for a County Auditor’s office employee. Beyer noted that Real Estate Clerk Kimberly Engrav has completed her six-month probationary period with a 50-cent per hour wage increase recommended to retroactively start after completion of the probationary period. The Supervisors approved ending the probationary period with a 50-cent wage increase effective November 23.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Conservation Director Ross Geerdes noted that later in the day, the Supervisors will be touring Conservation buildings and properties in Harpers Ferry. Geerdes advised that the Driftless Education and Visitors Center in Lansing was closed during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Moody discussed ongoing work being done to wrap up a variety of projects prior to the ground freezing. She briefly discussed the use and level of grant funding available relating to well rehabilitation, among other projects.

Beyer noted that work is ongoing relating to the accrual report, tax increment financing (TIF) reconciliations and Opioid settlement reporting. She advised that she has been appointed to the Auditor’s Association’s Local Leadership Council through the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Beyer noted that there are two county auditors appointed, one Republican and one Democratic, from each state to the Local Leadership Council with a meeting to include appointees scheduled in early January in Washington D.C.

Chairperson Byrnes noted that he will not be present for the Monday, December 4 Supervisors Meeting due to a scheduled absence. Following the business portion of the meeting and prior to adjournment, the Supervisors traveled to Harpers Ferry to view Conservation buildings.