By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Floyd County supervisors ran through a lengthy list of new-year organizational business Wednesday morning at the first meeting of 2019.
Included in the items was swearing-in newly elected county officials, including new Board of Supervisors member Roy Schwickerath.
Schwickerath, the former Charles City fire chief, was a member of the Board of Supervisors for one four-year term before being defeated for re-election in 2016. He now takes the seat of Mark Kuhn, a longtime board member who did not run for re-election.
Other officials sworn in were Supervisor Doug Kamm, County Recorder Deb Roberts, County Attorney Rachel Ginbey and County Treasurer Frank Rottinghaus, who had all been re-elected in the November general election.
The supervisors selected Kamm as the new chairman of the board, a position that in Floyd County traditionally rotates among the board members each year. He replaces Supervisor Linda Tjaden who held that role in 2018.
“I said this before. We’re just looking to be smooth,” Kamm said after being voted in as chairman. “We’re going to manage this county, not making waves.”
Also Wednesday morning, the supervisors continued working on the budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, hearing from county officials who presented budget requests for their departments.
County Attorney Ginbey said she would like to add another full-time attorney to her office, in addition to herself and Assistant County Attorney Randall Tilton.
“Without counting cases for December, we opened 738 new cases in this year,” Ginbey said.
“Currently, as far as active cases, an indictable case is a serious misdemeanor or above, and I currently have 141 indictable cases I am handling and Randy has 157. Of those, 57 of my cases are felony cases,” she said.
Supervisor Tjaden asked if the number of cases in Floyd County is unusual.
“Have you ever done a chart that shows the number of cases that we’ve had, … even before you came on as an elected official? How has it changed over the years?” she asked.
“I keep hearing that Floyd County is one of the highest counties in the number of cases,” Tjaden said.
Ginbey said, “The number of felony cases that we are charging and that are actually going to trial is increasing a lot.
“The four years before I was in office, there was a total of, I think it was 8 jury trials in that entire four-year period. Now we average anywhere from 10 to 15 jury trials each year, and most of those are felony trials that are being done,” Ginbey said.
Supervisor Kamm asked whether that is happening all over the state, or just in Floyd County.
Ginbey said, “I don’t know exactly how it’s changed in all counties. I know Cerro Gordo County has seen an increase in their higher level felony cases as well.”
She said another area that has seen increased workload is in cases involving children.
There are currently 73 child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) cases, she said.
“That’s an area in particular that I don’t believe receives the attention it should receive just because everything else takes a little bit more priority and more time,” Ginbey said.
“There’s also 27 juvenile delinquency cases, and those are just the ones that we’ve actually filed. A lot of those get handled informally.
“Unfortunately some of our delinquency cases are kids that have been dealing drugs in the school system and there have been sex abuse charges that have been filed, and then some pretty significant burglaries and car thefts that have taken place,” she said.
Ginbey suggested a starting salary of $50,000 for an additional full-time attorney, which she said would likely attract an attorney “fresh out of law school.”
That attorney would handle a lot of the magistrate’s court cases and traffic citations, she said, calling it good experience for a new attorney.
The Board of Supervisors didn’t make decisions on the county attorney’s proposal or on the budgets provided by other county departments Wednesday.
Once the supervisors have heard from all the department and groups that are included in the county budget they will begin making decisions on the total amount that can be spent in the new fiscal year and how to divide it up.
County budgets must be approved and sent to the state by the middle of March.
In some of the other beginning-of-the-new-year items on the budget, the board:
- Approved the committees and other organizations on which each supervisor will represent the board or the county.
- Designated the banks and other financial institutions that will act as depositories for various county funds.
- Set the Charles City Press and the Nora Springs/Rockford Register as official county newspapers for legal publications.
- Renewed a policy for Secondary Road Department employees to be able to take county vehicles and equipment home so they are available on a 24-hour basis when needed for action such as reacting to weather conditions.
Most of the appointments, policies and resolutions approved Wednesday were routine, and were continuations from previous years.