Board approves salaries, hears budget requests and supports Baylee’s Bill

VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors approved the compensation board recommendations for elected officials at the Jan. 28 meeting in Vinton, and also acted on wage increases for 2021 for non-elected officials.

In December, the Benton County Compensation Board recommended a 3 percent increase.

This results in the following salaries.

Auditor (3%)$76,540.26$78,836.47
Treasurer (3%)$72,384.88$74,556.43
Recorder (3%)$72,384.88$74,556.43
Attorney (3%)$109,268.47$112,546.52
Sheriff (3%)$90,712.36$93,433.73
Supervisor (3%)$41,375.40$42,616.66

All non-union, non-elected officials will also get an increase of 3 percent. The board isolated out Alisha Burmeister in the engineer’s office, who is getting 4 percent, and Katelyn Welper in the recorder’s office, who is going from $16.50 per hour to $18 per hour.

More budget work

The board also worked on several budget requests for next fiscal year.

Riverview Center representatives were at the meeting to discuss their 2021 budget. They are based in Marion and serve Linn, Jones and Benton County. They work with people affected by sexual violence, and provide counseling services and advocates. They board said they would put their request of $6,000 into their budget.

Department of Human Services representatives discussed their budget for next year. Their request is $16,000. Last year’s request was $15,000. They have added staff. Board members noted that DHS makes a point to not spend all of their budget.

Benton Development Group (BDG) also made their budget request. BDG director Kate Robertson listed highlights for small businesses they have helped. They have also helped with professional development. They helped with a grant in Shellsburg, working on a grant in Urbana, started regional conversations, started a hemp coalition, partnered with Iowa State for leadership in the county, surveyed land owners on sensible growth along Highway 30, and had a professional development day in Belle Plaine which included a visit with the Governor and Lt. Governor. She pointed out Benton County was ranked 10th in the state for GDP growth. She stressed their overriding goal is growth in the county. They are requesting the same amount as the current year for their budget. She said BDG is the “connector and resource hub” for the county. Primmer felt that BDG was doing a good job.

They also worked on the budget for the watershed management authority.

Increase in current wages

Treasurer Michele Sauer requested additional compensation immediately for three clerks in her office. The office is also looking to hire an additional worker. Primmer said he had no problem with the money, which amounts to an additional $665 a month. His problem was that this was being done in the middle of the year. While another department had increases mid-year, these were due to changes in positions. He acknowledged that the employees are “picking up slack” because there is fewer people in the office. After discussion, the board approved the request unanimously on a motion by Tracy Seeman and Gary Bierschenk, effective the next pay period, which is Feb. 1.

Other business

A land use hearing was set for William and Kelsey Bird for Tuesday, Feb. 25, 9:15 a.m., for land in Section 31, Leroy Township.

Public hearings were set for Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. for lease of the Cedar Valley Ranch land and to open bids for this, then award the contract at 11 a.m., and for maximum property tax levy at 9:45 a.m. the same day.

The board discussed recycling and the per-capita funding of the landfill. In the past the commission was interested in taking over recycling for the rural area. Seeman, who serves on the commission, related that the commission was no longer interested.

Engineer Myron Parizek gave an update on snow removal. Some have worked two weeks straight with no days off during the recent winter weather. Parizek stressed the importance of not pushing their driveway snow into the middle of the road, waiting for the county maintainer to clear that snow off of the road.

Rumble strips

Representatives were at the meeting seeking a letter of support for HF 2004 (Baylee’s Bill.) The bill stems from a fatal accident at the intersection of Highway 30 and 21st Ave., between Van Horne and Blairstown. They are seeking rumble strips at all county paved roads that intersect with state highways. The board signed the letter of support. Presenting the letter were Jade Ewoldt and Jasmine Gaston, sisters of Baylee Hess. Hess was killed in the accident. They felt the strips would give one more “startle point” to realize they need to be looking for the stop sign, and slowing down and stopping.

Chairman Primmer said Highway 30 is very busy, but it won’t have an overpass. In the meantime, they want the county to put in the strips. Supervisor Bierschenk observed, “It’s probably the most dangerous intersection in the county.” They also discussed the flashing red light at the intersection, and who is in charge of maintaining the light. Primmer suggested permanent flashing lights.

Benton County Attorney David Thompson asked Parizek how long it would take to put together a proposal for rumble strips. Parizek said he has been looking at criteria for rumble strip designations. It’s a matter of getting quotes. Work can’t start until this spring. Primmer said he’d like the county to look into strips as well as flashing lights, and how soon the strips can be cut into the road.

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