Floyd County Report: Highlights of the first 130 days and challenges ahead
By Mark Kuhn, Chair, Floyd County Board of Supervisors
Three new members of the board of supervisors assumed our duties on Jan. 3 and as a first order of business approved new rules of procedure for board meetings to improve transparency, accountability and citizen participation.
Following a well-attended and orderly hearing a week later, the board hired experienced legal counsel to draft a hazardous liquid pipeline ordinance protecting our rural citizens, their livelihoods and the county’s critical rural infrastructure. The law firm also represents our interests by intervening in permit proceedings before the Iowa Utilities Board for the two carbon pipelines that bisect Floyd County for a combined 40 miles.
After weeks of marathon budget workshop meetings, the board approved a FY 23/24 county budget that reduced county property tax levies across the board, while maintaining all existing services and keeping ending fund balances at minimum acceptable levels.
A new 3-year contract was negotiated and approved with the deputy sheriffs bargaining unit that keeps our front line law enforcement officers ready to serve and respond to critical safety needs.
The board responded to the unexpected challenge of appointing a new county attorney by conducting interviews in open session. It worked out very well in my opinion.
Floyd County now has the leadership skills of a very qualified county attorney and public servant in Todd Prichard and he retained Randall Tilton as assistant county attorney who brings his commitment and years of valuable experience to the position. And Floyd County saved approximately $30,000 in the process.
The board approved a beautification project proposed by the Floyd County Veterans Memorial Committee that will add landscaping and colorful plantings to the Veterans Memorial in the front lawn of the Court House. We look forward to the completion of the project that honors the service and sacrifice of all Floyd County veterans.
However, not everything is going as smoothly or as quickly as the board had hoped. Auditor Gloria Carr and Supervisor Dennis Keifer, who serves as the board’s point person on the Law Enforcement Center/Courthouse renovation project, have devoted countless hours to bring this project to completion.
We’re not there yet, but there is light at the end of this costly tunnel. All the elevators are now in operation and the final punch list of items to be completed is getting smaller. The new board meeting room is finally taking shape and could be ready for use within a month or so.
The new board, much like the previous board, has found the overall renovation project to be challenging and frustrating. Please be assured of two things: We are making progress and when all work is finished the board and auditor will present a complete accounting of exactly how much this project cost and where the funding has come from.
Many challenges lie ahead. The board has once again started the process to declare emergency medical services as an essential service in Floyd County that will most likely result in another county-wide referendum at some time in the future. The cost to maintain essential ambulance service has skyrocketed and the need for an additional funding source to assist already strapped city and county budgets must be addressed by all parties involved. Supervisor Jim Jorgensen is the board’s lead point person in this effort.
Another public safety issue that demands the board’s attention is the need to assist in funding a new radio communications system to solve connection problems for Floyd County law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency service providers. Dedicating a portion of Floyd County’s remaining $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds is the most likely revenue source for this initiative.
The board’s goal for the rest of the year is to continue working together with anyone and every governmental entity to make Floyd County the best and safest place it can be. We welcome your comments and involvement.