Public hearing coming on county funds for gym, pool
Ballot language for a proposed Aug. 6 vote for residents in unincorporated Jefferson County was discussed again at Monday’s regular county board of supervisors meeting.
The board is considering if the county will contribute $1 million toward the new outdoor pool and gym/recreation center to be built in Fairfield.
A public hearing on the matter is set for 10 a.m. Monday during the regular meeting of the supervisors in Jefferson County Courthouse.
The supervisors have contacted attorney Mark Cory of Ahlers & Conney PC of Des Moines, for counsel in wording the ballot.
“Some questions have come up about participating in funding the recreation center part of the project,” said supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt. “We’ll have to decide about ballot language that says pool and rec center or only the pool.”
Tracy Vance, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association was at the supervisors meeting Monday and said city administrator Kevin Flanagan has said Fairfield City Council’s $3 million contribution also may be required to only go toward pool construction.
“It depends on the naming of the recreation center,” said Vance.
Supervisor Dick Reed explained that the task force may decide to name the proposed rec center in honor of someone or an entity, such as a major, private contributor.
“Kevin has said if that happens in naming the rec center — that requires city and county funds could only go toward the pool construction,” said Vance.
“And the city council has to approve the county’s ballot language, because 50 percent of the county’s population is in Fairfield,” he added.
The supervisors are still proposing to keep 20 percent of the county’s allocation of local option sales tax revenue dedicated to bridges and culverts improvements, and use 16 percent of L.O.S.T. funds to pledge toward the pool/gym project. This would leave the remaining 64 percent of L.O.S.T. in place as property tax relief. Currently, 80 percent of the revenue is used for property tax relief.
The ballot language will include pledging $1 million or 10 full years of collection, whichever comes first, said Dimmitt.
“We should have the language about county funds for only the pool or for both the pool and rec center cleared up within a week,” Dimmitt said.
Selling county attorney office
The renovation of the former Department of Human Services building north of the courthouse is nearly complete and the Jefferson County Attorney’s office will move there.
“We’re not in the rental or property business, so we need to sell the Broadway office,” said Reed.
The current county attorney’s office is tucked between the former Co-Ed Theater and Torino’s Pizza and Steak House on West Broadway Avenue a block off the square.
Reed said the building was originally built in 1968 for an eye doctor’s office, is one story, and is 20-feet-by-78-feet. Behind the building, in the alley, is a 1,280-square-foot concrete parking area. He said the county has invested improvements in the building, most notably, insulating the roof/ceiling, which lowered energy costs, said Reed.
“We need to get an appraisal on the office and in my opinion, set a date and hold an auction,” said Reed.
Supervisor Becky Schmitz said that made sense if the county could set a minimum bid.
Reed re-thought his suggestion and said after getting an appraisal, the board could decide whether to list it for sale or hold an auction.
Update on application for
Central Point of Coordination, Jefferson County mental health administrator Sandy Stever reported to the supervisors about work on the county’s application to the state to not join with other counties for regional delivery of mental health care services. The application is due June 30.
Stever said Polk County (Des Moines) is the only county to date to be granted an exception to joining with other counties and will serve as a one-county, stand-alone region. Jefferson County would like to do that.
“Sandy Stever and Becky Schmitz have been working long hours on this [application],” said Dimmitt. “We appreciate your work and expertise.”
Stever shared a copy of the draft application with supervisors and pointed to guidelines from the state that contradicted one another.
“It feels like the standards were setup for us to fail,” said Stever. “Other than data, nothing in our application should kick us out.”
Schmitz agreed the state’s standards were unrealistic on several measures.
“We’re a little weak on evidence-based practice,” said Schmitz. “Or the standards are unrealistic for county programs.”
Stever said she didn’t think the county was weak.
“We’re meeting core services, and we always have,” said Stever.
Stever and Schmitz agreed joining with four of five other counties into a regional mental health care provider as envisioned by the state would not change any of Jefferson County’s data or improve services.
In other business:
• County engineer Scott Cline asked the board to consider purchasing a tandem-axle plow truck in the next fiscal year.
“It’s the same as the one we bought this year,” he said.
Cline used the state bidding process to bid for a Knapheide-built truck at $94,300 from International with add-ons of $48,400 for a total of $142,700. The add-ons will adapt the truck for snow plowing and sanding, said Cline.
“Why are we buying another truck?” Reed asked.
Cline said he intends to have a replacement cycle to keep secondary roads department fleet in good, running order.
Dimmitt asked if the county could negotiate its own price outside the state bid process.
“We can go through our own bidding process,” said Cline. “I don’t think we’d get a better deal talking with a dealer. All the options are also state-bid for the best price.
Reed said he was glad Cline was keeping the fleet up to date.
• Supervisors set a public hearing for 9:30 a.m. May 20, during a regular Monday meeting to vacate a portion of 170th Street that crosses the runway at Fairfield Municipal Airport.
• The board approved appointing Gerald Manley to Area 15 Housing Agency Board.
• Dimmitt reported at the recent Regional Utilities Service Systems meeting, the RUSS board agreed to separate Richmond and Rubio from Ollie projects.
“Richmond is off the table; Rubio is of the table,” said Dimmitt.
• South Iowa Response Group, the HazMat regional response team that includes Jefferson County, was able to acquire $120,000 in protective gear from Texas at no cost.
“When a disaster strikes, equipment and gear is poured into an area,” said Dimmitt. “This was unused, surplus donation that can be given away if not needed. All SIRG had to do was go down to Texas and pick it up.”
• Reed encouraged everyone to view the 700 or so tulips in bloom at the Maasdam Barns.