By Steve Peterson
Plymouth County supervisors continued budget discussions Jan. 14 and began deciding what money goes where.
A public hearing on the budget was scheduled to be set at the Jan. 21 supervisors’ meeting.
“I figured the salary increase at 3.5 percent. I would also like to bump the lower tiered deputies’ salaries based on evaluation. The 3.5 percent includes for the two non-bargaining unit employees,” said Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo.
“If everyone gets a 3.5 percent raise, does that mean that everyone got a superior performance review,” asked Supervisor Jack Guenthner.
Van Otterloo said no, explaining there is no choice due to the contract.
“Performance reviews can be a tough thing to do because they are subjective,” said Supervisor Jim Henrich.
For the Communications Center, Van Otterloo is proposing $386,810, over the current Fiscal Year 2013-2014’s $368,521; an increase of $18,289. This is due to salaries at a 3 percent increase and other increases totaling $17,989: IPERS and FICA benefits, $10,485; insurance, $3,504; and Information Technology, $4,000.
The overall budget for the sheriff’s department is $1,008,071, compared to $946,162 this fiscal year, an increase of $60,909. Reasons include salary, IPERS and FICA, $28,475; insurance $5,184; and new vehicle, fuel and repairs, $27,000, total $60,659.
For Corrections: jail budget is $1,104, 230; currently $1,041,999; for an increase of $62,231. Reasons include hiring one full-time and one part-time kitchen staff to replace CBM Inc. Two non-union bargaining unit employees would receive the same increase as union staff, up 3.5 percent. Van Otterloo would also like to give some lower-paid deputies a raise based on performance reviews.
The evaluation process has been done for some 20 years with supervisors evaluating employees and Van Otterloo signing off on the process. The sheriff evaluates the supervisors.
“It lets the employees know where they stand and it is fair to the employer,” said Van Otterloo. “It is important to have in case there ever has to be discipline. We really appreciate what the supervisors have done to support the flexible scheduling. The budget would be a 6.4 percent increase.” said Van Otterloo.
Building maintenance is important at the 11-year-old Plymouth County Law Enforcement Center, said Van Otterloo.
Top revenue sources include U.S. Marshal Housing of prisoners, $350,000; Communications Center, $58,170; Civil, Sheriff Fees, $95,000; County Prisoner Work Release, $38,000; Bureau of Prisons Inmate Room and Board, $40,000; County Inmate Commissary and phone, $15,000 (the sheriff’s office sells inmates phone cards).
“The arrangement with the Federal Bureau of Prison has been great. We will continue to receive inmates from them. Also, there is the staff intensive program for inmates who have to serve just weekend sentences. Work release is a good system but if they (inmates) mess up, there are consequences,” said Van Otterloo.
For the kitchen help, if done with own staff, there would be a full-time person at $52,000 a year and a part-time person at $13 to $15 per hour.
“Both CBM Inc. workers are looking for more help and the company has informed us they will drop us. They’re in it to make a profit. I think the answer is to take it on ourselves and to prepare the meals on site. We monitor the quality of the meals and sometimes have one of the jailers try it. They know that I am coming to the board with this; we will give their two people consideration for the jobs and they’re excited about that but there is no guarantee,” said Van Otterloo.
Plains Area Mental Health
Plains Area Mental Health Services Director Patrick Schmitz presented the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget request.
“For Fiscal Year 2014-2015, I am asking for money for a year that will end up in regional control. At the direction of our Board of Directors, they asked me to make requests of the counties so the region has an idea of what is being asked for,” said Schmitz.
“Our estimated cost of services is estimated to be $980,000 — compared to the last year of $950,000 (for 2013-2014),” he said. “Our total request is $89,850; and last year it was $133,748.”
“We have a question mark on the fee for service,” said Schmitz. “We have no idea what kind of liability that the county will have; for outpatient therapy, psychiatry, and now with everyone supposedly with access to health care (Affordable Care Act), and the county is the payer of last resort. Technically the county does not have liability for out-patient, but you know that going out-patient is a lot cheaper than a higher level of care later.”
“There is a big difference between the block grant for emergency services for last year and FY 2014-2015,” he said. “The current fiscal year is $35,454; and we’re asking for $66,000. We’re moving all of our counties to $2.75 per capita ratio. For years we tried to adjust it, and going to a region every county should have the same amount.”
“For Plymouth, it is based on 24,000 population,” said Schmitz. “It is a significant difference. We’re looking at providing same-day service this next year and are adding staff, including one nurse practitioner and psychiatrist for Integrated Health Home.”
Engineer Tom Rohe presented an estimated budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2105 of $8,899,606.There is a $1,034,000 beginning balance. “That is pretty good for us,” said Rohe.
Revenue sources include real estate rent of the Chatsworth pit area, $15,000; used materials, refunds, $45,000; licenses and permits, $7,000; detour routes, $25,000; Local Option Sales Tax funds, which were $300,000 in FY 2013-2014; signs, $282,000; miscellaneous receipts, $374,000.
Roadway maintenance, including $420,000 for bridges and culverts; $3,15,000 for roads; $348,000 for snow and ice control; $208,000 for traffic controls; and $90,000 for road clearing total $4,381,000. Administration cost is $216,000; engineering expenditures, $559,000, for a total of $775,000. There is a total of $1,270,000 in construction for Farm to Market and local Secondary Roads and for General Roadway Expenditures, $530,000 for new equipment; $1,394,000 for equipment operations; $239,000 for tools, materials and supplies; $68,000 for real estate and buildings.
“We got a good rural evaluation increase and the LOST funds help a lot,” said Plymouth County Secondary Road Engineer Tom Rohe at the Jan. 14 supervisors’ meeting. “I think that the rural citizens are happy with the rate We were fortunate in our county that we got some good evaluation increases some counties in the southern Iowa.”
“Federal bridge funded plans for 2014-2015 are a new bridge at County Road C-38 north of Evergreen Avenue, for $685,000 (80 percent federal) and this year we got a reimbursement of $870,000, for use of 160th Street over the Floyd River; and we will be getting the final reimbursement this spring,” said Rohe.
Property fund taxes were at $2,375.000 in 2013-2014 and are pegged at $2.5 million in 2014-2015.
The maximum that could be collected from property taxes and rural taxes is $2.842 million with a minimum levy of $2.1 million.
“We need 75 percent of that. If you tax less than that, you will lose revenue in the Road Use Tax Fund, said Rohe, adding the current projection of RUT is $4,097,760.
“The Property Tax is about a third of the budget and the RUT is about two-thirds,” said Rohe.
The Secondary Road Fund got $300,000 in county LOST funding in FY 2014-2015.
There was some talk about having some of the projects done by road crew staff.
“We could do about $400,000 to $500,000. They can handle the smaller projects,” said Rohe. “Eight to 10 projects would be good for us to shoot for.”
As of the second round discussion Jan. 14, the total general basic fund expenses are estimated at $6,527,089, a $327,867 or 5.29 percent increase from FY 2013-2014.
There was some discussion about the LOST Advisory Board funding, which was pegged at $100,000.
After the current year and commitment to Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars for LOST funding, the process may go strictly for roads, supervisors said.
“It should be $100,000 for this year and then this would be the last year,” said Supervisor Jack Guenthner. “I don’t want the county to ever be in the position to have to bond for a road.”
“We are in an enviable position. Ten years ago we had a long list of projects for LOST Funds and they are largely done,” said Supervisor Craig Anderson. “A previous board spent $500,000 without knowing where the money would come from.”
“Due to discussions with ambulance service staff, I think in the near future we will have to levy a tax for it,” said Supervisor Don Kass.
Exact wage increases recommendations were to be discussed at the Jan. 21 third round budget talks.
It was noted that the urban area has 37.3 percent of the assessed value but pays 32 percent to run the county while rural is at 62.7 percent and 76 percent to run the county.
Other line items for the rural fund are Sheriff deputies’ pay, $286,476, a $17,511 increase, or 6.49 percent; Waste Disposal, $230,000, a $5,000 increase, 2.22 percent; Ambulance-EMS, $86,000, $1,000 increase, 1.19 percent; Zoning, $17,9432, $298 increase, 1.63 percent; Fair Board, $25,000, $5,000 increase, 25 percent; Plymouth County Museum, $12,000, $2,000 increase, 20 percent; ending fund balance, $1,360,036.
For the Mental Health Budget, Central Point of Contact Sharon Nieman made a presentation. The expenses are $1,280,021 an revenues are estimated at $1,385,334.
For Roads Rural fund, expenses are $8,657,000; revenues, $8,359,000 for an ending fund balance of $242,606.
LOST Fund for FY 2014-2015 includes a beginning fund balance of $1,900,000 with revenues of 12 monthly sales tax payments at $1,050,000.
• The November 2014 Jail payment, county portion, $304,000;
• May 2015 Jail payment, county portion, $8,500;
• LOST Advisory Board Grant Money allocated for FY 2014-2015, $100,000;
• Secondary Road Infrastructure, $550,000;
• Boring fiber to Secondary Road offices, if all is not paid in FY 2013-2014, $50,000;
Conservation Board, River’s Bend near Akron, $33,000;
• Removing of tower off of Courthouse Roof and repair, if not paid in FY 2013-2014, $5,000.
Total expenses are projected as $1,050,400 with an ending fund balance of June 30, 2015, $1,899,500; a reserved fund balance, $500,000; and remaining funds not budgeted for, $1,399,500.