Supervisors working on ballot language for gym, pool vote
Jefferson County Board of Supervisors is working on ballot language for an Aug. 6 vote for residents in the unincorporated portions of the county to decide if the county should contribute $1 million toward the new outdoor pool and gym project proposed in Fairfield.
A public hearing on the matter is set for 10 a.m. May 6, during the regular Monday meeting of the supervisors in Jefferson County Courthouse.
The board is proposing to keep its 20 percent 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 Aug. 6 election is calling for a change in the use of 16 percent of these funds,” said supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt Monday. “After the $1 million is paid back, the 16 percent will revert back to property tax relief,” bringing property tax relief back to the full 80 percent of L.O.S.T. revenue.
Residents within Fairfield city limits had a similar vote in the November general election, and strongly approved the city pledging $3 million toward the new outdoor pool and gym project, contingent on the task force raising enough donations, $7 million, to fund the project.
In February, task force members attended a county supervisors meeting, indicating it had approximately $4 million still to raise.
Dimmitt said the county will include a similar contingency about its pledge; if approved by voters, the county’s $1 million will be subject to the task force having enough funds for the total project.
Sale of excess property, minor subdivision moves forward
County Engineer Scott Cline said Monday the county owns 2.29 acres of land in Center Township that is not used.
“We’re not using it, we’re not maintaining it, the neighbor has been taking care of it and would like to buy it,” said Cline.
Dimmitt said the property would need to be appraised before being offered for sale. He asked Cline to contact Jim Horras about providing an appraisal.
Assistant County Attorney Pat McAvan said the adjoining property owner has first rights on the sale, if the offer meets or exceeds the appraisal value.
Tom Greene returned to the board having made a slight change to his Sofair Farms Minor Subdivision on a 20-acre tract at 2379 Mint Blvd.
“It’s the same design,” said Greene.
Supervisor Dick Reed, who had been absent from a previous supervisors meeting when Greene presented his plans, asked about increased traffic.
“A few years ago, there was quite a deal about subdivisions spring up around the county and the need for the subdivision owner to dust-proof the approach roads to the subdivision,” said Reed.
McAvan said for minor subdivisions dust-proofing access roads is not required.
“Minor subdivisions would create a minimum of increased traffic and have a minor impact,” said McAvan.
Dimmitt asked about the old farmhouse on the property because he recalled the Department of Public Health had ordered the house torn down because it was a groundwater hazard.
“I’ve had conversations with public health, and I’m re-doing the water, septic system and fixing up the house for my farm manager to live there,” said Greene.
“We have the buyers’ agreement with a signature and the subdivision has already been approved,” said Dimmitt.
McAvan said Greene’s next step would be to record the plat and plans can move forward.
In other business Monday, the supervisors:
• Approved an amendment for easement of the recreation trail with Jefferson County Health Center.
• Denied a request from Jubilee Kingdom Gathering to use space at the courthouse for a weekly prayer gathering.
“We have no provisions for private use of the building and we’re required to deny the request,” said Dimmitt.
McAvan explained that private use means anything other than municipal business.
A representative from the church said the prayer meetings would be open to the public, but understood the distinction. She said other municipalities around the state allowed such uses and the church wanted to make a point of having Christian prayer being expressed in a governmental setting.
• Approved contracting with the Department of Human Services for targeted case management in the county’s proposal to the state for Jefferson County to operate as a stand-alone mental health provider region. Supervisor Becky Schmitz said this would not increase costs.
Reed said he went to Montrose last week to review the annual budget for the seven-counties youth detention center.
He also reported the Southeast Iowa Multi-County Solid Waste Agency landfill is considering purchasing a generator.
Schmitz said the Ambulance Service Agency board reviewed the log of calls, times and reasons for service requests for the county ambulance.
The service agency will have its by-laws clarified by the May meeting.
“One of the ambulance service owners said he can purchase an ambulance cheaper than we’ve previously purchased,” said Schmitz. “We’d push the purchase into fiscal year 2015.”
Dimmitt reported the Regional Housing Trust Fund approved the Habitat for Humanity house.
Batavia Mayor Randy Major said Iowa’s Delaware County has an ordinance about road repair responsibilities.
“Users who tear up county roads can be held accountable for repairs,” he said during Monday’s public comments. “Steve Siegel is researching this.”
In February, Major asked the board of supervisors about Ash Street, a Farm-to-Market Road that runs through Batavia. He brought photos in February to show the broken pavement and ruts.
“It’s almost impossible to have two-way traffic on this road,” he’d said. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me about it, when can it get repaired. The pavement is deteriorated and even the curbing is beginning to disappear. Traffic has to drive down the center.”
In February, Cline said Ash Street is in his five-year plan of repairs, but not on the schedule for this summer’s construction season.
“Ash Street is on our five-year program, but we can’t just go out and do it. We are aware of it, and I’ve looked at it,” Cline had said.
Major also is looking for direction from the county’s emergency management director, Jerry Calnon, about setting up a shelter in Batavia.
“We have no emergency shelter area in Batavia,” said Major. “If we can handle an emergency with a generator at the community center, I think that would work.”
Dimmitt provided Major with a cell phone contact for Calnon.