County loan for road work moves ahead

Posted May 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

by Steve Peterson

Plymouth County Supervisors conducted a public hearing on debt issuance at their May 14 regular meeting.

The not-to-exceed $2.35 million loan agreement will pay for road work on County Roads 38 and K-42 and Fifth Street in Merrill.

A formal authorization of the loan agreement will be considered at the June 18 meeting of supervisors.

The supervisors have chosen the General Obligation (GO) Bond format due to cost savings over Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). Moving the agreement forward was approved by a unanimous vote of supervisors May 14 following the public hearing. Ruan Consultants is the county’s bond consultant.

“I would like to know if there are any other big projects in the TIF (District),” said Mark Bohner of Le Mars who attended the public hearing.

Contributors to the TIF District include Plymouth County Energy, the ethanol plant.

“You can’t use the TIF unless there is a debt,” said Auditor Stacey Feldman.
“The length of the bond is five years which gives us some cushion.”

“This is one case where the TIF is used the way it is designed,” said Supervisor Don Kass, adding the project also received federal funding.

In other county business:

• Supervisors reviewed the Plymouth County 2012-2013 budget amendment. The hearing on the amendment is set for June 4. The data presented May 14 from Feldman was for informational purposes.

On the revenue side, line item additions include Joint Urban Renewal Fund, $28,000; Pass Through Emergency Medical Services grants, $19,236; ICAP lightning damage insurance claim, $25,500; District Court revenue from delinquent claims, $82,000; Secondary Road Fund, TIF reimbursement from Plymouth County Ethanol, $2,628,000; Project Lifesaver for the Sheriff’s Office, $4,000; Loess Hills Alliance Grant, $80,000; pass through boat ramp at Akron, $25,600; Health Board Emergency Preparedness Pass Through Grant, $25,000.

Also revenue from the sale of Le Mars Industrial Park Lot No. 2, $38,329; and sale of the Winter Feed Lots to the City of Le Mars, $297,500. Attorney delinquent collection fund was $6,000.

Plymouth County Conservation Board revenues included additional collection revenue, $6,000; restricted donation for bird feeders, $300; restricted donation for ECO Center cabinet project, $3,500; restricted donation for elk, $1,550; restricted donation to extend a boat ramp at Big Sioux Park, $1,000; and restricted donation for a flagpole, $100.

There were also $137,000 of revenue from charges for services, including transfer taxes, recording of documents, weapon permits, Bureau of Prison revenue and Inmate Reimbursement Fund for Prisoners’ Room & Board.

Transfers include $25,000 from General Fund to Conservation Land Acquisition Fund; and Debt Service Fund to Project Eagle Fund for Wells Enterprises bond payment, $522,858, for a total of $3,950,373.

The budget amendment also includes $5,461,718 in expenses. Feldman noted one added expense is for a county juvenile who has been sentenced to a facility which costs $10,000. Also, a part time deputy sheriff, $7,500; Conservation’s track loader and forestry mulcher, $80,000; and Workman’s Compensation Insurance, $80,000.

The total amendment would be a negative $1,511,345, leaving a total ending fund balance after the current amendment of $3,488,946.

Sheriff’s Revenues

Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo explained the revenue picture looks good from multiple sources.

“The Federal Marshals Office will be about $350,000,” said Van Otterloo. “We had estimated $300,000.”

“The Bureau of Prisons has been a good revenue source, too,” he said. “The Bureau of Prison Revenue is expected to bring in $70,000, plus an inmate reimbursement fund prisoner room and board, $25,000.”

“Other revenue includes weapon permits, $15,000,” said Van Otterloo, “and we average about 10 to 12 gun permits a week, about $30,000 a year and they’re good for five years. We also offer fingerprinting for those who are required to do so for a truck driving license.”

The present Plymouth County Law Enforcement and Jail opened in 2002. It is a 54-bed jail facility that contains six pods. Each pod consists of individual cells, restroom and shower facilities and a day room. There are a male general population area, female general population area, female maximum security, male maximum security, special status and work release. There are also recreation, medical room, booking room and control room areas.

Van Otterloo said on average, the jail has about 25 inmates.

The Plymouth County Jail Division is led by 14-year veteran Lt. Tami Jorgensen; and Jail Sergeants Dan DeVos and Scott Allen.

There are eight full-time correctional officers and some part-timers.

“We are hiring two more full-timers through the Civil Service Commission testing. This is so we can keep the part-timers’ hours at under 29 per week (to be under health care benefits rules),” said Van Otterloo, adding he is very pleased with medical services for prisoners under a new arrangement with Mercy Medical Services. Medications are dispensed by Family Pharmacy of Le Mars.

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