City agrees to pay greater share of law center expenses
Fairfield and Jefferson County share a 28E agreement governing the law center on Grimes Avenue that houses the sheriff’s office, the county jail, the Fairfield Police Department and the 911 dispatch communications center.
The agreement signed July 1, 1999, split the costs at the law center based on use of square footage in the building. Since the sheriff oversees the jail, more space is allocated to the sheriff’s office and the costs were allocated 67 percent to the sheriff’s office and 33 percent to the police department.
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors asked to review the 28E agreement this month, which states it can be reviewed annually in November.
“It hasn’t been reviewed since 1999,” Sheriff Gregg Morton told Fairfield City Council Monday.
“I’d like to re-address some costs to be more fair and equitable,” he said.
Morton suggested the following areas be cost shared by the two law enforcement agencies at 50 percent each:
• Iowa System — a database used to access drivers’ licenses, registrations, warrant checks and criminal history. The annual cost last year was $9,456.
Morton said because the police department, serving a more dense population and having more officers that use the system than the county, the costs could be split 50/50.
• Maintenance — including mowing at $1,748 per year; janitorial services at $27,564 per year; and pest control at $792 per year.
“Mowing and janitorial services are spaces used by the sheriff’s office and the police,” said Morton. “The jail does its own janitorial cleaning. It really shouldn’t be based on square footage, because it benefits both departments equally.
“Pest control is done throughout the entire facility and benefits the whole building. If it was done only in the common areas and those occupied by both agencies, bugs would still be a problem, so the whole building has to be done for everyone’s benefit,” said Morton.
• Copy paper — Morton said everyone uses copy paper and its use is not tracked, but basing the cost of the building square-footage doesn’t make sense. Paper cost was $1,276 last year.
Mayor Ed Malloy asked if Morton has taken the requests to the Service Agency Board chaired by Tammy Jones.
Morton said he would, but he wanted to know what the council thought about amending the 28E agreement on cost sharing these items.
Malloy asked Police Chief Julie Harvey her opinion.
“I think the request is fair and equitable,” she said. “We probably need to get this agreement changed before budget planning time.”
City council member Daryn Hamilton said, in the spirit of cooperation, it seemed the city’s Park and Rec Department could handle lawn mowing, along with mowing parks.
Morton said he wanted the council and the community to know, “Julie and I work very well together,” he said. “There are no problems or rifts between us. It’s time to review this agreement.”
The city council approved Morton’s requests to split the costs for the items outlined at 50/50 for the two law enforcement agencies.
Supervisors Lee Dimmitt, Becky Schmitz and Dick Reed, who had heard Morton’s proposal at their Monday meeting earlier and attended the city council meeting Monday evening, also voted at the council meeting to approve the amended 28E agreement.
“We have a great police department and a great sheriff’s department,” said Reed. “I think sometime we should all sit together, join hands and create one [law enforcement] department for costs and
City will apply for CAT grant for pool/rec center
Malloy brought up the city’s intention to apply for a Community Attraction and Tourism grant for the Pool and Recreation Center Project while the county supervisors were still in attendance Monday evening.
Malloy said a CAT grant had been successfully received to help in constructing the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
“We’ll apply for a $1.8 million CAT grant, and it requires city and county participation,” Malloy said.
“The county provided in-kind contributions for the CAT grant for the convention center,” said Dimmitt. “Will that be possible again?”
Malloy said it probably was possible.
In August, residents in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County voted on a proposal to shift 16 percent of the county’s share of local option sales tax, at an average of $100,000 per year, for 10 years or up to $1 million, which ever occurred first, to contribute to a new outdoor pool and proposed new recreation center.
The August vote was defeated, but the committee is not. The committee continues working toward raising the funds needed for the project.
“I have a suggestion,” said Reed. “I am not opposed to a county contribution to the pool and rec center project. There was a ballot, and the ballot failed.
“I’d like to see the committee bring a petition to the supervisors with 500 signatures from the rural fund,” said Reed. “It would tell us at least 500 people would vote for it. It would take some work of that committee to get 500 signatures. To move forward, I think we need this because it’s going to be another $10,000 bill for an election.”
The six city council members present approved a city resolution of support and commitment of matching funds for the pool/rec center project and authorized applying for a CAT grant.
The council approved the fiscal year 2013 Tax Incremental Financing report.
“We’re drawing down some of these accounts,” said City Administrator Kevin Flanagan. “There’s some work on the frontage road by the new Pilot Grove Savings Bank going up along Highway 1.”
City Clerk Joy Messer told the council the Wagon Wheel apartments and another property on West Jackson Avenue, both granted TIFs, had not been income productive.
“Buildings for the elderly or low income residents do not generate much tax revenue,” said Flanagan. “Carrington Point has done well.”
The TIF fund was a negative $176,000 for Wagon Wheel and the West Jackson Avenue property.
“There’s not enough revenues coming from those projects, and we can’t extend them,” said Malloy. “The apartments are good for the community, just not good for revenue.”
City Attorney John Morrissey said building the Wagon Wheel apartments had been a joint venture with the chamber of commerce.
“The projections showed it would pay off early,” said Morrissey. “I don’t know where the hole is.”
Council member Connie Boyer asked if the records could be reviewed and Malloy agreed.
The council approved a contract at $125 an hour with an attorney, Dustin Miller from the League of Cities, to help the city finalize selling the Logan Apartments.
“Dustin’s specialty is working in Housing and Urban Development programs,” said Morrissey. “We want him to do some work to sell the Logan Apartments and have it remain in Section 8.”
In other business, Malloy said the city is working on a grant application for façade restorations and upgrades for a minimum of 15 properties around the square.
The grant is for $500,000 and each property owner would be asked to contribute 50 percent toward work done.