By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
During the Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 25, County Engineer Mike McClain shared some information with the Board regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and its effect on the county’s receipt of federal financial assistance.
County Attorney Phil Parsons was also present to offer information on the requirements of Title VI of the Act. McClain shared an e-mail he received from the DOT stating, “… beginning on Oct. 1, 2012, the Iowa DOT will not process any new federal-aid funding agreements with a city or county until we receive a copy of your signed Standard DOT Title VI Assurances and Title VI Agreement.”
Title VI refers to nondiscrimination laws. As it states, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title VI covers race, color and national origin, and also refers to non-discrimination on any basis.
McClain explained there are things that need to be in place “to continue to receive federal funding.”
Parsons said a lot of the work that is required from Title VI are things that a human resources department or person should handle, including annual reports, bid notices and contracts, where new language related to Title VI now has to be inserted.
“It is what it is,” said Parsons. He said if this language, assurances and agreement are required of the county to continue to receive funding, it has to be done. He said he would look over the agreement and assurances before the county approves them.
“We don’t need everything in place by Oct. 1,” offered Parsons, “Just sign-off to comply.”
He said this issuance affects every department of the county.
“We’ll need to designate a coordinator to monitor the county’s compliance and handle any complaints,” Parsons said. He said his department is not the one to handle such work as he is the county’s legal counsel.
Supervisor Leo Cook stressed his concern with the program, saying a small county like Jones County may not be able to afford an HR coordinator.
“It’s just the beginning,” said McClain. “We need to be aware of it.” He said Story County has already implemented the Title VI program. “Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to pass the policy and look into appointing a coordinator,” McClain said.
County Auditor Janine Sulzner inquired as to whether county agencies such as E911, the assessor, conservation and emergency management would be affected of the compliance.
“Anything connected to the county would be a factor,” clarified Parsons. He said over the years, “Jones County has been a morally good and fair county. We have never heard any discrimination complaints.”
Supervisor Keith Dirks said he didn’t feel the county would have any problems complying with Title VI.
The board looks to address the matter within the next couple of weeks.
In other county business:
• McClain sent letters to landowners along 140th Avenue concerning a proposed closing and vacation of 140th Avenue south of 80th Street, which is currently a class “C” road. This will require a public hearing and action by the Supervisors.
In the letter, McClain said if no comments are received by Friday, Oct. 5, the Supervisors will set a hearing date at their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
• There will be a retirement open house for County Engineer Mike McClain on Friday, Oct. 19 at the Engineer’s Office in Anamosa.