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Supervisors Hear Positive Financial News

By Staff | Jan 14, 2010

Despite the bleak mid-winter conditions, Palo Alto County Supervisors managed to get some good news recently regarding the county’s financial status. The semi-annual report and settlement of Palo Alto County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker was presented during the Jan. 12 Board of Supervisors’ meeting with a positive message.

“All of the county’s funds and Treasurer’s Office balanced to the penny for the period from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2009,” reported County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker. “The balance on hand at the close of business on Dec. 31, 2009, was $19,493,082.44.”

According to Hilfiker, the county has several Certificates of Deposit on file with Bank Plus in Graettinger, Laurens State Bank in Emmetsburg, Iowa Trust and Savings Bank in Emmetsburg and the Iowa State Bank in Ruthven.

“The average Certificate of Deposit for an investor is earning point-nine percent,” Hilfiker told the supervisors, but the county’s CDs are earning 1.9 or 2.0 percent after negotiating with these institutions.

According to Hilfiker, the county actually had $412,730.03 more on hand at the end of 2009 than it did a year earlier. “We are in good shape.

“To have that much money left over – are the taxes too high?” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan. “What makes that happen?

“That comes from people watching their budgets and cutting back,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger replied. “They’re not spending as much, so we’re not using all of what we’d budgeted for.

“The thing to remember is that amendments to budgets will eat into that amount,” Hilfiker reminded the board. “People may cut, but it’s the unexpected things that require amendments which eat up that money.

The report and settlement were approved on a unanimous vote of the board.

In other business, the board approved a one-year extension of the Enterprise Zone declaration for POET’s Project Liberty program southeast of Emmetsburg.

In a telephone conference call with Jim Sturdevant, Project Liberty Project Manager, Sturdevant reported that the move created a $525 million partnership between Palo Alto County and the Iowa Department of Economic Development to assist in the Project Liberty effort.

“This is all part of the process to finalize and approve the construction contracts for Project Liberty with the Department of Energy,” Sturdevant explained. “The State of Iowa will finalize everything Thursday in Des Moines. The support of Palo Alto County is actually coming through this Enterprise Zone and the TIFF district for our facility.

Following a motion by Noonan, the extension was approved on a unanimous vote of the board.

“What is your anticipated starting date?” Board Chair Jerry Hofstad asked Sturdevant as the call wrapped up.

“With final approvals from the DOE, we anticipate moving dirt later in 2010,” Sturdevant replied.