WLC, Volunteer Center sees need for county services

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Two organizations met with the Jones County Supervisors during their Jan. 23 meeting to discuss funding for the next fiscal year, 2019.

     Laurie Worden and Tris Langdon with Workplace Learning Connection (part of Kirkwood Community College) are asking the county for $1,023 for FY 2019, at 5 cents per capita. The seven counties that seek support from WLC fund the program anywhere from 5 to 10 cents per capita. Worden said they use the county funds to help leverage grants.

     WLC offers services for those school districts to help provide mandated programming the schools cannot afford to offer themselves.

     “These are career and technical education directives from the Department of Education,” explained Worden, “unfunded mandates for our school districts. These are required activities that all school districts have to provide for students around career exploration and awareness.” WLC offers middle and high school students with opportunities such as job shadows, internships and career fairs.

     “Our school districts depend on these services in order to be in compliance with state code,” added Worden.

     In addition, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued the “Future Ready Iowa” directive that states that 70 percent of all Iowans will achieve some post-secondary education by 2025.

     “Community colleges are charged with that directive even though our legislature reduced our overall funding by 3 percent last year,” said Worden. Despite being a part of KCC, WLC is a self-funded program.

     With the schools receiving 100 percent of WLC’s support, the funding from these schools only makes up about 26 percent of their budget. Monticello schools offer $940.50, Anamosa at $3,676, and Midland at $1,206.

     Langdon is tasked with setting up those career exploration opportunities, and tries to give the students as much exposure to jobs/careers in Jones County as she can.

     “We’re constantly building new business relationships to make these things happen,” shared Langdon.

     WLC served just under 30,000 students last year, with over 1,300 students in Jones County served.

     Five years ago they had 74 businesses to partner with, and are now at 182 active businesses in Jones County. Job shadows increased by 23 percent; internships increased by 162 percent.

     Amy Keltner with the Jones County Volunteer Center requested $3,000 for FY 2019, the same as the previous fiscal year.

     One of the programs the center is focusing on right now is VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which starts Feb. 1.

     “We’re able to open more hours this season and get more people in,” shared Keltner. She said they’re offering evening and weekend hours.

     This tax season, the center has 174 client slots open, and more if needed. Keltner said she recruited four new volunteers for VITA.

     Last year’s VITA program brought in $198,000 in federal tax return dollars from 169 clients.

     The transportation program, which assists county residents with non-emergency medical appointments outside of Jones County, is where the majority of the county’s funds end up assisting.

     For 2017, Keltner said she paid out $34,000 in mileage for about 70,000 miles.

     “We did a lot of running,” she said.

     For the annual Days of Service volunteers and hours, Keltner was proud to say she saw an increase here from the previous year. She was also able to add more volunteer and service events. In 2016, she had 22 volunteers put in 70 hours of service. For 2017, there were 115 volunteers and 228 hours served.

     “Our numbers for volunteers and hours have really increased,” she said.

In other county business:

     • Scott Behrends with GeoSource met with the board to discuss the situation at the former Dirks Oil Station in Wyoming.

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach informed the rest of the board that the county does not have to conduct an environmental assessment of the property before removing the asbestos, according to the DNR.

     “So we can start advertising for bids,” Manternach said.

     “We need to budget for this project if we don’t get the grant,” suggested Supervisor Joe Oswald, pertaining to the ECICOG Derelict Building Program grant.

     Behrends offered that the original tanks on site were taken out in the late-1980s, and the most recent owner’s tanks were removed in the mid-1990s. He said samples of the soil were taken shortly after and the numbers were high enough to require a soil remediation project on site to remove any contamination. Behrends said the level of the water table at any given time moves the amount of product that sits on top. At one time there was 5 to 6 feet of product on top of the water table.

     “This isn’t a speedy process,” said Behrends. “We’ve been able to pull some product every month.”

     He told the board if the old station were torn down, he would not have an issue bringing in his own power source for the skimmer.

     • The board approved plans for the County Road E-45 paving project.

     County Engineer Derek Snead said he has $4.5 million budgeted in Secondary Roads’ five-year construction program. However, the engineer’s estimate for this project is around $3.2 million.

     “I think that’s a pretty safe number,” said Snead.

     This project will utilize farm-to-market funds (FM), with approximately $1 million in the account today.

     “So we’ll need to borrow ahead,” Snead warned.

     The county was also awarded $500,000 in TSIP (Traffic Safety Improvement Program) funds through the DOT for this project, similar to when County Road X-44 (Amber Road) was outfitted with safety components.

     Snead anticipates an April or May letting on this project yet this year. The plans call for a box culvert to replace a bridge.

     “This project will be an improvement,” said Snead.

     • County Auditor Janine Sulzner gave the board an update on the county’s FY 2018 financial activities through December 31, 2017.

     The county’s fund balance is up 12.9 percent from a year ago, at $10 million.

     On the expense side, most of the county departments are operating at 50 percent or less, which is typical with six months remaining in the fiscal year.

     “We try to watch that closely,” said Sulzner.

     With county revenue, Sulzner said it’s never an issue if departments are showing that they’re over budget.

     “We’re bringing in a little more than we’re spending,” she said, with expenditures at 41 percent and revenue at 47 percent.


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