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Supervisors Briefed on Drainage Levies

By Staff | Jun 3, 2010

Palo Alto County Supervisors held a brief discussion on the probable need to implement a drainage levy at some point in the future on a drainage district during their weekly session June 1. The board also discussed graveling of roads and use of limestone during the meeting.

Deputy Auditor Carmen Moser and Palo Alto County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker brought the board members a worksheet on the current status of outstanding debt on Drainage District 80. The district, which underwent a reclassification several years ago, led to litigation by a group of landowners to be removed from the district, and then saw the State of Iowa appeal a drainage assessment of some $96,000 against Five Island Lake and win that appeal, resulting in non-payment of that amount by the state.

According to Moser, who is the county’s drainage clerk, the upper main portion of DD80 was originally levied against in September of 2005, and from that levy, a balance of $138,545.42 is still outstanding for that portion of the district.

“That amount includes some waivers, and the $96,000 of the state assessment,” Moser noted.

The lower main portion of the ditch, which also has undergone some repairs due to natural disasters and is being funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, currently has an outstanding balance of $155,440.65.

Looking at the numbers, the board was in agreement that some type of levy is going to have to be implemented in the future to address the outstanding balances. “We’re going to have to do something, that’s for sure,” noted Supervisor Ron Graettinger. “Maybe someday down the road, the state might pay that $96,000, but for now, we need to be thinking about getting this taken car of.”

The board took no action on the briefing, and asked Moser to contact drainage attorney Robert Brinton to get an estimate on his current charges for meetings with the board and state officials over the lake assessment issue.

In other business, the board was updated by John Wright, Assistant to the County Engineer, on the current status of county road issues.

“The contractor on the Ayrshire road project is beginning the placement of the fly ash today,” Wright noted. “They did a test section last week, and are ramping up today.”

The fly ash is used as a component of the roadbed to provide a more solid sub-base. The substance has been used successfully on the county’s two previous road reconstruction projects at Depew and Graettinger.

“Right now, Upper Plains’ schedule calls for them to begin paving around the end of this month or the first of July,” Wright said. “Their calendar is projecting completion around August 5, but that is all dependant on rain and conditions.”

“So they’re thinking they’ll be done before the harvest, that will be a good thing,” noted Board Chair Jerry Hofstad.

Supervisors Keith Wirtz and Ed Noonan asked Wright if some extra gravel could be applied on areas that had received recent treatments with the limestone aggregate this Spring. In making the request, Noonan asked Wright about the cost of the limestone rock that the Secondary Road Department was utilizing.

“Our first contract was at $6.35 a ton, and our current contract is at $6.50,” Wright said. “I’m pretty comfortable with the contract.”

Wright noted that Pocahontas County does receive a more favorable cost when they purchase the material from the Gilmore City quarry, but that is due to the fact that Pocahontas County has a stockpile of the material built up at the quarry, and leaves a county loader at the pile to load their own trucks. Palo Alto County must weigh each load it hauls out, as its stone comes directly out of the quarry.

“I guess I was just curious because I had someone comment to me that they didn’t think we were putting very much limestone down on our roads,” Wirtz noted.

“We’ve put a substantial amount of material down this spring around the county,” Wright replied.

“Well, we need to get a little more gravel on top of it to blend it in,” Noonan added.

In a final item of business, the board discussed a situation with a county resident with Mental Health and General Relief Director Maureen  Sandberg.