County hears of available home repair assistance

Board of Supervisors
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     While funded by the Jones County Board of Supervisors, perhaps many county residents are unaware of ECIHTF’s programs available to homeowners.

     Tracey Achenbach with ECIHTF (East Central Iowa Housing Trust Fund) met with the supervisors during their Dec. 26 board meeting to provide an update on funds spent and projects carried out in Jones County, but to also request funding for Fiscal Year 2020. After requesting an increase in funding for the previous fiscal year, Achenbach said they are not asking for additional funds. Her request was in the amount of $1,944.

     “We’re asking to be included in your budget again this year,” requested Achenbach. She said county funds are used to help leverage matching grants.

     ECIHTF offers grant dollars to homeowners to assist in repairs. They also work in cooperation with ECICOG.

     ECIHTF’s is “dedicated to improving quality of life by offering innovative and flexible funding in order to expand affordable housing” within its four-county region of Jones, Benton, Iowa, and Washington.

     Last year, the ECIHTF helped eight families in Jones County on home repair projects totaling $49,000.

     “Projects have to be a minimum of $15,000,” explained Achenbach. “We spend an average of $16,500 on house repairs.”

     She said they helped the highest number of people in Jones County compared to the other three counties.

     Projects considered by ECIHTF are income based. “A lot of senior citizens fit because they’re retired and have Social Security,” said Achenbach.

     The supervisors all agreed that very few people in Jones County know about the ECIHTF. Supervisor Joe Oswald encouraged Achenbach to visit with Senior Dining Director Lisa Tallman to get information to seniors via Senior Dining and Meals on Wheels.

     The board will review all funding requests as they start to prepare the FY 2020 budget.

In other county business:

     The board approved filing a tax lien on a vacant property on County Road E-34 in Fairview for delinquent sewer bills.

     County Auditor Janine Sulzner said EIRUSS has been billing for sewer usage when no dwelling structure exists on the property.

     The delinquent bills date back to January of 2017, totaling about $1,700.

     The lien will be issued under the previous owner’s estate as well as a daughter who took over the financials.

     The board approved $5,000 in Internet upgrades to the Broadway Place Annex facility, in an effort to assist Community Services on creating a mental health regional office.

     Lucia Herman, Community Services, and Lisa Mootz, IT, both met with the board to go over the details. Of the total cost, $4,000 would come from Mootz’s budget and $1,000 out of Community Services.

     Mootz explained the broadband speed has already been upgraded, but the communications radios and Internet cable are old and outdated.

     “Instead of replacing a server at that location,” suggested Mootz, “we can update the radios and install copper cable.” She said that would greatly increase the Internet speed, not only for Community Services, but other county offices at that location.

     County Engineer Derek Snead informed the board that Secondary Roads experienced a breakdown of a hydraulic excavator. To fix the transmission in Des Moines, he said it would cost anywhere from $12,000 to $14,000.

     “That’s a very small price to pay,” said Snead. “The components still work well for our purposes. We anticipate getting a lot more use out of this equipment.”

     The parts would be sent off to Des Moines, and Secondary Roads employees will reinstall everything in-house.

     The board placed on file the Compensation Board’s recommendations of a 4.5 percent pay increase for all elected officials for FY 2020.

     The board re-appointed Jim Christianson, Courtney Pearson, and Rita Balichek to the Pioneer Cemetery Commission.

     They also appointed Jane Ortgies to the Board of Health.

     James Krapfl and Tim Fay were re-appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission until July 2019.

     “This gives us time to see if there is other interest out there or for people to fill out applications,” said Supervisor Wayne Manternach.

     Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach asked if there is perhaps other interest in Historic Preservation other that what is routinely presented to them via the chair.

     Sulzner said notice is printed annually in the county newspapers seeking interest in all county boards and commissions.

     Supervisor Joe Oswald asked whether the supervisors should be going against the county’s boards in terms of board member recommendations.

     “They’re still our boards,” said Manternach. “They develop policy for our board. There should be cooperation between both.”

 

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