County OKs Heartland memorandum
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved Monday a memorandum of understanding with Heartland Co-op, written by Tracy Vance, outgoing executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association and Pat McAvan, assistant county attorney.
A week earlier, two representatives from Heartland Co-op outlined a proposal for a 4.4-million-bushel of storage capacity grain elevator facility, a $25 million investment, at Nutmeg Avenue and Highway 34 east of Fairfield.
“This project will be a real boon to the area,” said Supervisor Becky Schmitz. “It seems Heartland has done lots of planning.”
Vance said Heartland has been looking at southeast Iowa four years, and Jefferson County for about a year, in planning the facility.
“I received one comment about having a row of trees planted as a buffer, a visual and sound barrier,” said Supervisor Dick Reed.
Vance said he could pass along such a request to Heartland.
“This is a facility to be built out in the country,” said Supervisor Chairman Lee Dimmitt. “We don’t have zoning out in the county. If we make this type of accommodation, what else will people ask for? I don’t think we need to consider it.”
Reed said it wasn’t a decision that needed to be made right away.
Selling small acreage
Supervisors approved hiring an appraiser and surveyor for about nine acres of land the county owns south of Fairfield, which was once part of the county home property.
“It’s about nine acres that includes a pond, it sets east of the old county home between the farmland the county leases out,” said Reed. “It’s pasture; when the county home was in business, Greiner ran his mini horses on it and the residents of the home enjoyed going to see the horses.
“We’ve discussed selling it before. We don’t take care of it, it doesn’t generate any income,” said Reed. “A few years back, we repaired the pond, but the neighbor mows it.”
Mark Porter, a neighbor, owning land on both sides of the county parcel, would like to purchase it.
“The county still has leased farmland that brings in an income,” said Reed. “Porter is an entrepreneur and has a solar energy business. He’d like to put a building up on this parcel to increase his storage capability for solar panels and equipment.”
Reed said the last time the county sold property, the supervisors had a sealed-bid process. A minimum price including the appraised price plus the costs of obtaining an appraisal and a survey, would be set.
Vance said Iowa Code should be consulted, but he thinks there is a way around having to conduct sealed bidding to sell the land parcel.
“If it’s being sold for economic development, and it sounds as if that’s what you’re talking about, there is some type of exception to needing a sealed-bid process,” said Vance. “I’d ask Pat [McAvan, assistant county attorney].”
Ballot language set
The supervisors approved the same ballot language used in August for a March 4 vote among residents in unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. County residents will be asked to vote whether to support using 16 percent of the Local Option Sales Tax for a new gym and outdoor pool in Fairfield.
The ballot explains the county’s portion of L.O.S.T. being dedicated 20 percent for secondary road fund for repairs, maintenance and improvements to bridges and culverts in the county; the same as allocated now.
Instead of the remainder 80 percent of the county’s portion going to property tax relief, the ballot proposes using 64 percent for property tax relief and 16 percent toward the pool and gym project, for a period of 10 years or up to $1 million, whichever occurs first.
“After the goal is reached, whether it’s 10 years and only $990,000 is collected or in eight years, $1 million is reached, the fund reverts back to its original purpose, of 80 percent toward property tax relief,” said Dimmitt.
“This also allows the funds to be appropriated annually, instead of having to borrow the amount and pay it back annually.”
Fairfield on TV
Schmitz said she learned at a recent board meeting of the Fairfield Iowa Convention and Visitors Bureau, that Fairfield will once again be featured on TV.
“The program, ‘Moving America Forward,’ is targeting communities instead of businesses in the upcoming season,” she said. “Fairfield was selected to be included. The show is hosted by William Shatner.”
Vance said Fairfield would be one of two communities featured on a half-hour program in the future. Video production with the MAF crew will be sometime in 2014.
“Doug Llewellyn narrates the program,” said Vance. “Fairfield will be featured for about 15 minutes. Community criteria for selection included creating jobs and economic development.
“After the segment has aired, Fairfield will be given a copy of its segment and the rights to use it as a marketing and promotion tool.”
The website for “Moving America Forward” describes highlighting entrepreneurial businesses and innovations.
A Facebook post at 2 p.m. Monday, stated, “Next year coming up on ‘Moving America Forward’ William Shatner will be featuring the greatest city in America!”
In other news, the board of supervisors:
• Reviewed an updated Jefferson County Investment Policy.
County treasurer Terri Kness said the last investment policy was approved and signed by the board of supervisors in 1997.
“It has some outdated code references and all the signatures of board members are no longer serving,” she said. “The policy basically says investments should be liquid, and should be safe.
“I don’t think we need an annual review, but only need changes if bank regulations change or Iowa code changes.”
Supervisors approved the investment policy pending a review and approval from the county attorney’s office.
• Reed reported Southeast Iowa Multi-County Solid Waste Agency, or SEMCO landfill in Richland, purchased an additional 80 acres east of the landfill, that will serve the counties in future years.
• Dimmitt reported that a three-person panel heard arbitration for the Regional Utility Service System and Wapello and Mahaska counties that were asking to leave RUSS.
“The panel said those two counties cannot withdraw and must pay their dues,” said Dimmitt. “RUSS cannot charge interest on money owed.”
Ten southeast Iowa counties belong to RUSS.