By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
During the Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 22, the Board heard from several county departments concerning their fiscal year 2014 budget requests.
Paula Hart, Environmental Health administrator, and Lyle Theisen, Board of Health chairman, presented their proposed budget showing 0 percent increase overall. Hart said they stayed within the Supervisors’ 0 percent increase request, with the exception of the county’s contract with Linn County.
“The contract rate is significantly higher this year,” commented Hart. “They don’t think they’re charging enough of their services.”
Hart explained with that increase, Jones County is going to start implementing increases for septic and well fees as of July 1, at two-year increments: $150 to $200 to $250.
“It sounds high,” Theisen said, “but it’s within reason.” He said compared to other counties, Jones County is in the middle of the road even at $250.
Supervisor Keith Dirks commented that the Board of Health looked into these fee increases “carefully and closely.
“It’s an unavoidable scenario,” Dirks said. “These increases are not going away.”
Lisa Tallman, Senior Dining, presented her budget to the Board, with some changes compared to last year: a reduction in the cook’s hours and a reduction in the Monticello site manager’s hours (Jody Graff).
Tallman said with Four Oaks in the same facility as Monticello Senior Dining, the Four Oaks girls are helping with tasks Graff has had to do in the past.
Tallman said Graff would be an asset, however, to the Monticello Senior Center, which houses Senior Dining at the John MacDonald Medical and Educational Center.
“There needs to be some management and guidance there to run the place,” Tallman said.
Supervisor Ned Rohwedder inquired as to whether Graff’s additional hours in Monticello would be covered by the City of Monticello or the county. Tallman said they are working on an arrangement with the city.
“It’s hard to separate dining from the center,” Tallman explained.
“We hate for you to cut services,” Supervisor Dirks commented.
As far as the rest of the Senior Dining budget, Tallman said expenditures are down about 6 percent. She said they have had a good boost in revenue after the media campaigns locally and through The Heritage Area Agency on Aging.
Tallman asked the county to contribute $10,000 towards the program. She has also asked the individual cities throughout the county for their share of contributions. Tallman said she has not asked for an increase from the cities.
As far as attendance at Senior Dining, Tallman said their numbers are steady.
“For some people, this meal is the only decent meal they get,” Dirks commented.
Tallman said they are still taking donations as well to help cover the cost of food.
Susan Yario, Veterans Affairs administrator, told the Board that the only major difference in her budget this coming fiscal year is the increase in insurance rates. She also increased her mileage figures due to classes she will be attending in the spring.
“I don’t have a very big budget,” Yario said. “Everything pretty much just stays the same.”
On Thursday, March 7, Yario said there will be a mobile veterans center coming to Wyoming. More details will be available as the date gets closer.
Deb Schultz with County Community Services gave the Board an update on the mental health regionalization plans. She said the name for the region has been decided: “Mental Health and Disability Services of East Central Region.”
With recent funding discussions, Schultz said it was proposed to pool some money as a region and keep some funding separate for the counties involved.
Schultz was notified by the CPC of Buchanan County about the possibility of joining the mental health region Jones County has formed with six other counties. She said Bremer County, which borders Buchanan, has not shown interest in joining the region yet.
“It’s hard enough with seven counties,” commented Supervisor Wayne Manternach, “than to expand to two more counties. Agreements could be difficult.”
Schultz said population-wise, the Mental Health and Disability Services of East Central Region is the largest, which includes both Linn and Dubuque counties.
Schultz said they are working on organizing a regional meeting within the first week of February.
In other county business:
• County Engineer Derek Snead said they are posting a weight limit on a bridge located in Rome Township on 25th Street over a tributary to Pioneer Creek. The limit will be posted at 10 tons for gross vehicle weight. Snead said the piling on the bridge is starting to deteriorate.
• The Board approved final plans for the bridge deck overlay on County Road X-28 over the Wapsipinicon River in Stone City. Snead said there would be a letting date of April 16.
He said they hope to preserve the life of the bridge.