Shortage of workers affects Van Buren treasurer’s office
KEOSAUQUA – The Van Buren County Board of Supervisors approved the appointment and compensation Monday of former employees of the treasurer’s office, who are now filling in because of a shortage of workers in the office.
A motion that was approved during the regular meeting would pay the former employees 80 percent of the county treasurer salary and the current first deputy treasurer at 85 percent.
According to Laurie Burgason, Deputy County Auditor, 80 percent of the salary is $17.95 per hour. She said there would be no trigger for the county to pay IPERS contribution for the employees as they would be below the income threshold.
Current treasurer Tanya McQuoid is on a medical leave of absence. After resignations, there is only one full-time employee (Ruth Teeter) on staff in the office besides McQuoid.
In other action from Monday’s meeting:
• The supervisors voted to proceed with a sharing agreement with Davis County and purchase a spray patch machine for hard surfaced roads. The county contracted with the Iowa Department of Transportation to spray patch a portion of V64 south of Douds recently and the supervisors were pleased with the results.
The cost of a machine is $56,210. If Van Buren and Davis counties were to enter into an agreement, the cost would be $28,105 for Van Buren County, according to county engineer Jeff Williams.
In addition, the county would have to buy oil from the DOT and Williams said it would be “nice to have a tank to hold a week’s worth.”
The next time the county crushes rock, it would have to have crushed chips as part of the contract, Williams said, to use with the spray patch process.
“Davis County is very interested in sharing,” Williams said.
Although supervisors were in favor of purchasing a machine, there was discussion on whether or not to enter into an agreement with another county.
Ted Nixon said he thinks there would be enough work for the county to completely own it.
“I think we would be better off buying it ourselves,” Nixon said.
He also said sharing of machine can become complicated.
“I think it would work,” said Williams.
Supervisor Mark Meek said, “I’m perfectly fine with sharing with Davis County.”
“Personally, I think it’s a good deal,” said supervisor Bob Waugh.
• Williams said that over the next few weeks county road crews were going to be hauling rock for road projects.
“We’re going to be having two crews go out and get to all of the seven districts. We’re going to hit five or six roads in the area. We’re working the roads right now getting them ready,” Williams said.
• Williams said there have been discussions on having a 10-hour work week for summer months next year. Representatives from the secondary road union and the county negotiator have been working on details and Williams said it would be done on a trial basis.
• Williams reported on the progress of the Boley bridge on Yellow Avenue. He said both piers are done and the contractor is driving pilings on the abutments. He also discussed the county quarry assessment with supervisors
• Larry Streed, representing the Historic Preservation Commission, asked about progress toward possible restoration of the 1840 courthouse.
He had attended a board meeting a few months ago and stated that the historic preservation board members felt the building needed some attention. Streed offered the commission’s help in trying for grants to pay for repairs. At the time, County Auditor Jon Finney said the county would get more information about possible costs.
“Jon’s been looking at it and getting estimates,” said Meek. “I think he looked at the roof and windows, getting it tuck-pointed. We haven’t got a contract.”
Meek added, “we’re perfectly aware that it needs to have something done to it, or it comes down. We’re also aware it’s a centerpiece of this county.”
Streed thanked the county and would report back to the board.
Van Buren’s courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It is the oldest courthouse in Iowa (second oldest nationally) and served as the location for a trial resulting in the first death penalty in Iowa history. The finished Greek Revival-style building was one of the largest west of the Mississippi River for that time period. The framework of the courthouse was constructed of native oak from the area, as well as locally manufactured brick for the exterior. Locally-harvested walnut completed most of the interior, trim and two circular staircases.
• The board met with Julie Carpenter, manager of the Van Buren recycling center/convenience center. Board members asked about the operations and declining revenues over the last year or so.
The tonnage is also a bit lower, said Meek.
“The income has dropped about $8,000,” Waugh said.
Meek said he wondered if “we aren’t charging enough.”
One of the growing problems Carpenter said, was that people are dumping their items at the center outside of normal working hours.
“We have an issue of stuff getting thrown over the fence,” she said. “We just had someone dump two recliners at the front door.”
Carpenter said, “we’ve upped our fees a little. One of the problems is we’re not getting the big loads from the contractors like we used to.”
Supervisors asked about the breakdowns from Waste Management on what they charge for hauling away some of the items.
Carpenter said she doesn’t get that from the county auditor.
“I don’t see the statement, just the tonnage,” she said.
“The bills from Waste Management are not very clear,” Meek said.
Supervisor Bob Waugh asked about when Waste Management hauls away the garbage from the compactor unit and if it was full each time.
“Waste Management only comes on a Monday or Friday,” she said, “so when you call, they might not come for a few days,” she said.
Meek indicated that Sedore Trash Removal would come that day.
Campbell said one thing they might try doing is changing the hours to 9-4, which might increase revenues. The hours are currently 10-5. She noticed that some are waiting when they open at 10 a.m.
“I know it might hurt employees, but to save money, we might reduce hours,” she said.
Meek said he would talk to Waste Management about improving the billing statement.
• Mel Malachosky, rural Keosauqua, had a complaint about Van Buren County Secondary Road trucks going on his road, 205th Street, between Ivy Trail and Heather Avenue. Malachosky says they are originating from the county quarry and suspects that they are trying to avoid the Pittsburg hill on J-40. “Although, if I were driving a truck, I would rather be on the blacktop than the gravel road.
“A number of years ago we had an agreement that the county trucks would not use 205th Street, unless they were specifically rocking the road. It was when Dave Barrett was county engineer and the supervisors were Gary Adam, Marvin Philips and Bill Randolph.
“Since then, there have been times when a couple or several trucks would drive over that road.”
Malachosky said he has seen two belly trucks using it one day, hauling rock.
“When the county trucks are going on 205th, you can’t go out, it’s so dusty,” Malachosky said.
Supervisors said they would check on the agreement.
County Engineer Jeff Williams said, “I’m not sure why they were going on 205th and I didn’t know we had two belly trucks going out, thought we were using one right now. I can sympathize with you.”
Malachosky also discussed the speed limit on county gravel roads. The road near the county quarry, he stated, is posted 35 miles per hour.
If Malachosky thought the county road trucks were going over the speed limit, he should call the sheriff’s office, as the truck drivers have to drive under the limit, Williams said.
Malachosky also discussed grading county roads right after a rain. He said right afterwards, “you couldn’t go faster than 15 miles per hour.” A nearby farmer, Malachosky said, couldn’t use his equipment.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to put up with that,” Malachosky said.
• The county treasurer was ordered to assess special assessment liens against the following property owners in the former city of Mt. Sterling for delinquent sewer accounts: 1) Kimmarie Robison, $142.56; 2) Brad Smith, $142.56; 3) Jim Thayer/Jim Thayer estate, $142.56; 4) Lonnie Wilson, $142.56; 5) Brad and Rayeann Farris, $315.80; 6) John Smith, $43.20.
• Supervisors approved the appointment of Heather Johnson as local public health office manager, at a wage of $12.00 per hour. The board discussed the wage with public health administrator Lindee Thomas before acting on the hire.
• The board approved the request from the State Line Rally Association for a five-day class B beer permit, including wine coolers and Sunday permit.