Supervisors approve pay increases, leave tax levy rates the same and hear concerns about proposed medical services contract for jail

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, March 12 to address a full agenda of items, including a Public Hearing for the Fiscal-Year 2019 Allamakee County Budget, the third reading of the E-Cigarette Ordinance LIX and a discussion and presentation regarding medical and mental health services for the Allamakee County Jail.

Chairperson Pro-Tem Dennis Koenig called the meeting to order with Chairperson Larry Schellhammer to join the meeting later. There was no public comment.

The Public Hearing for the proposed Fiscal-Year 2019 Allamakee County Budget was opened with Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicating that no written or verbal comments have been received. The Public Hearing was closed.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of adopting a Resolution approving compensation increases for elected officials. Supervisor Dan Byrnes read aloud a summary of the resolution indicating that December 15 the Compensation Board met and recommended percentage increases in compensation for elected officials at four percent for the Auditor, Attorney, Recorder, Supervisors and Treasurer, and six percent for the Sheriff. Byrnes indicated that a Resolution for the recommended salary adjustments for elected officials would include increases of four percent for the County Auditor, Attorney, Recorder and Treasurer, six percent for the Sheriff and just two-and-a-half percent for Supervisors.

Byrnes explained that the Supervisors' pay increase of 2.5% was a deviation from the Compensation Board's recommendation and was previously approved in Resolution 18.046 and that there is an additional $1,000 for the Board Chairperson's compensation, as has been done previously. The Supervisors approved the compensation increases for elected officials.

The Supervisors discussed salary and wage increases for other department heads and non-union employees. Byrnes motioned to increase the salary or wage for all other departments and all other non-union employees by 2.5% and that the Auditor's Office Payroll Deputy salary be set at 68% of the Auditor's salary and the Accounts Payable Deputy salary be set at 56% of the Auditor's salary, all of which was approved.

Byrnes discussed setting cents per thousand for the support of County libraries at 17.396 cents per thousand with an additional $500 for each of the six libraries and the Fiscal-Year 2019 library contracts, which was then approved. Area resident Jeff Abbas questioned the Supervisors about any restrictions in place regarding the use of the County funds contributed to libraries. Byrnes indicated that it is at the discretion of each Library Board on how best to use the funding and explained the yearly Supervisor meeting visits to each of the libraries within Allamakee County.

Byrnes presented the Resolution approving Fiscal-Year 2019 Budget and Certification of Taxes, with levy rates remaining the same as the year before with rates for General Basic at 3.6, Rural Services at 3.81482 and General Supplemental at 2.1816 and a grand total of property taxes levied at 7,575,337. The Resolution for the Fiscal-Year 19 Budget and Certification of Taxes was approved.

The Supervisors moved into the third reading of the E-Cigarette Ordinance LIX, prohibiting the use of electronic smoking devices in public places, which was approved. Byrnes further clarified that the ordinance is an extension of the tobacco ordinance and that the E-Cigarette Ordinance involves penalties for the first offense at $100 and $200 for the second and subsequent offenses. The Supervisors approved the adoption of the E-Cigarette Ordinance.

The third reading of the amendment to the Flood Plain Ordinance XXXIX Ordinance was approved. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake indicated that his office had not received any further comments on the matter. Blake had previously discussed at the February 26 meeting that changes to the ordinance have been made following a request from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to update the language and definitions to remain compliant with Federal directives. The Supervisors approved the adoption of the Flood Plain Ordinance XXXIX.

The Liquor License renewal for the Old Rossville Store was approved. The Manure Management Plan from Chestnut Farms was also accepted and placed on file.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of the Homestead Tax Credit. Beyer indicated that this is an addition to the list that was previously approved. Byrnes and Koenig reviewed the update and approved the Homestead Tax Credit as presented. The Supervisors also approved the Certificate of Adjustment as presented.

Schellhammer arrived as Byrnes and Koenig began discussion of an invitation for all Supervisors in Iowa to attend a conference that will take place at the White House in Washington D.C. March 21. Byrnes discussed that the Allamakee County Supervisors met last Wednesday and decided that they would like to attend. Byrnes stated that this will be a learning opportunity and vacation and that each of the Supervisors will pay their own way without any receipts or expenses being turned in to the County. Byrnes shared that the trip will include a tour of the White House, with the conference conducted by Vice President Mike Pence. Schellhammer added that there is a possibility that President Donald Trump will be making an appearance at the conference, although that has not been confirmed.

As Chairperson, Schellhammer then assumed leadership of the meeting, which moved into a presentation from Advanced Healthcare, Inc. (ACH) with Program Consultant Megan King providing an overview of the medical and mental health services ACH can offer to assist the Allamakee County Jail in regard to inmates. King explained that ACH is a correctional health care company that will protect the County from liability and ensure that high quality care is received by inmates with decisions being made by qualified health care professionals. King discussed the proposal, which indicated that a practitioner would be on site every three weeks but on call 24/7, with additional practitioners on call covering any absence. King indicated that a registered nurse would be on site four hours every week with a mental health professional on site three hours every other week to provide screenings, assessments, evaluations and referrals to crisis intervention services.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed the advantages of offering services in-house providing greater safety and security. Mellick said that he has spoken with the Administrator at Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon, who indicated that VMH would not be able to match ACH's price for the services offered.

Area resident Tom Hustvet expressed concerns, based on experience as a contract manager, about being locked into a contract with any provider and with the Sheriff's authority over dispensing pain medications to an inmate and control over the contract and/or provider. Mellick responded that ACH or another care provider would have a medical professional making all medical-related decisions for inmates, removing liability for the County and Sheriff's Department and making the best possible decisions from a medical perspective. Koenig discussed general concerns statewide with the availability of mental health services, often requiring law enforcement to transport inmates over long distances to receive care.

Hustvet also questioned the Supervisors about the contingency funds that were used for expansion during the Public Safety Center construction project and the decision to expand the facility to 45 beds. Schellhammer described the contingency fund as being restricted to construction-related expenses and that the decision to expand the facility during construction was voted on by the Board. Mellick further addressed Hustvet's concerns with an overview of the Public Safety Center cost and funding.

Schellhammer indicated that proposals from additional providers could be heard in regard to the medical and mental health services contract, including information from VMH. Koenig will follow up with Clayton County Sheriff Mike Tschirgi regarding the quality of ACH's services that are currently being utilized by Clayton County.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed setting a letting date for road rock resurfacing, recommending April 2 at 10 a.m. Ridenour advised that 111,550 tons of gravel will be needed for 391 miles of gravel secondary roads. Ridenour discussed being proactive, putting a larger grade of gravel in mud-holes that have resulted from recent weather conditions and that embargoes are being used to keep secondary roads passable. The Supervisors approved the letting date.

Ridenour also discussed the contract for the Green Valley Bridge project, with Skyline Construction at a bid of $597,917.09. The Supervisors approved the contract as presented.

Under Department Head Updates, Zoning Administrator Blake provided an update on an application for a communications tower and concerns relating to a quarry setback. Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody discussed the recent snow and ice melt affecting the color of a stream, a recent manure spill and clean-up, and an indoor swimming pool repair. Ridenour discussed upcoming interviews for a vacancy in his department and Beyer discussed that manure management plans can now be submitted online.

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