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Supervisors Updated On Potential Funding Cuts

By Staff | Jan 26, 2010

Palo Alto County Supervisors were made aware of a potential cut in state funds for road construction projects during their Jan. 19 meeting. A proposal before the Legislature could cost the county around $100,000 in Road Use Tax Funds.

Joel Fantz, Palo Alto County Engineer, explained to the board that Governor Culver has proposed the transfer of $50 million from the state’s Road Use Tax Fund to the Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Iowa State Patrol to pay trooper salaries. Monies from the Road Use Tax Fund are used to help pay for construction projects, such as the recently completed Depew pavement.

“This $50 million transfer would come right off the top of the Road Use Tax Fund, some of which is generated by motor vehicle licensing, so that the trooper salaries wouldn’t have to come out of the state’s general fund.” Fantz explained. “That $50 million would come out before the whole RUTF pot is divided up between the counties and cities. However, to do the transfer would require a change to the Iowa Code that would have to be voted on by the Legislature.”

According to Fantz, about half of the $50 million would come from government entities. “If this transfer is made, it would mean Emmetsburg would lose about $40,000 and the county would lose about $100,000. It just seems like the state is trying to do this through the back door.”

Fantz urged the supervisors to visit with Senator Jack Kibbie and Representative Marcie Frevert to express their opposition to the transfer and its’ long-ranging effects on the local area.

In other items of information, Fantz noted that he would be meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state office of Homeland Security to present information on the county’s expenditures to remove snow after the Christmas snowstorm.

“We have not received a disaster declaration, as of yet, but we do meet the criteria,” Fantz noted. “If we receive the declaration, we could claim the expenses of those three days of snow removal costs for reimbursement, which would be about $100,000.”

Fantz noted that the snow removal costs are all-inclusive, taking into account machine costs, fuel and hourly wages. Extra costs would include overtime pay, and additional fuel costs.

“I think our roads are looking pretty good out around the county right now,” noted Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“I agree,” said Supervisor Ron Graettinger. “I’ve heard good comments from people around the area about the condition of our roads after the snowstorms.”

In other business, the board approved the appointment of Keith Sadler of Mallard to a vacancy on the Palo Alto County Civil Service Commission.

The board also met with Ron Ludwig, Executive Director of Upper Des Moines Opportunity, and Cinda Joynt, Outreach Manager, in regards to the organization’s annual request for funding. For the upcoming Fiscal Year 2011, which will run from Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept 30, 2011, Upper Des Moines is requesting $18,000 in county funding, the same amount as requested last year.

“For every county dollar received, Upper Des Moines brought $39.09 worth of state and federal assistance into Palo Alto County in the past year,” Joynt noted. “We assisted 1,033 individuals in 449 households in Palo Alto County alone.”

“We’re very thankful for our local support,” noted Joynt, “At Christmas, Thanksgiving, back to school time, everyone has been so supportive of what we try to do. Because of our support, we do a lot of good things with a little bit of money.”

Supervisors also met with representatives of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Delta Dental services regarding dental coverage plans for county employees, but took no action.