Additional budget work continues

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – Additional budget work for 2023-24 took place with the Benton County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2023, at the service center in Vinton.

The board reviewed the budgets for sanitarian/land use, sheriff and attorney.

They also heard questions on the proposed 61st Street project request and heard an update on pioneer cemeteries in Benton County.

Sanitarian/land use budget

Land Use Administrator/Sanitarian Marc Greenlee said the proposed budget is very similar to past budgets. Funds have been placed in reserve for the future purchase of a new vehicle in past budgets. Now there will be a line item for this. They exceeded expectations on income. Much of this is driven by the economy, affecting well permits and subdivision/land use applications.

Wage increases were set at 8 percent, going by what the compensation board recommended for county elected officials.

Sheriff budget

Sheriff Ron Tippett walked the board through the budget for next fiscal year. He covered full-time and part-time employees, as well as overtime. The big guess, he said, is fuel costs. He is also looking at three new vehicles. The investigative fund will increase. The 911 budget has no great change. The jail is getting to be in better shape, with more people hired, which will keep the costs of part-time and overtime down. Foods and provisions are expected to go up. Acute and emergency care is being studied and a provider is being sought.

The board and sheriff also talked about maintaining of computers and contracts with communities for law enforcement.

Attorney budget

County Attorney Ray Lough introduced, Allaina Bennett-Casali, who he recommended to be a paralegal. Supervisor Richard Primmer would not second the resolution to hire her, feeling she did not have enough experience. Primmer observed the county let a person go who was an attorney and hiring a person who is 19 years old. He said he didn’t know of many 19-year-olds without a degree who start at $40,000 a year. He preferred to have a closed session on this. That closed session was set for the next day. He stressed he had nothing against the applicant. But he observed, “I don’t know how you replace an attorney with a 19-year-old.”

As for the budget proposal, they went over collections, salaries and management.

61st Street project

Wayne Siela was at the meeting and said it’s been three years since the 61st Street project was proposed. He asked how long it would take to establish 61st Street as a farm-to-market road. It is currently a dirt road south of Vinton. He felt it should be given a higher priority than what it has been given.

He read letters of support and encouragement from organizations and businesses. The letters pointed to the upgraded road taking truck and other agricultural traffic away from the road that now goes past the high school.

Supervisor Richard Primmer said the engineer has made room in his upcoming budget for a survey of the road. The cost for the survey is estimated at $15,000.

Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman said he wanted to work on a grant through the East Central Iowa Council of Governments. If the survey gets done, he hopes to get a grant for the 2024.

Primmer stressed they are working on the survey, so they are serious about getting this done. They would also like to talk with the City Vinton on this.

Other business

The board approved the resignation of George Haefner from the Iowa Vegetative Roadside Management Commission. They also chose Tracy Seeman as a board liaison.

Wayne Shannon gave the Pioneer Cemetery Commission yearly report. Most talk centered on the Stringtown Cemetery north of Blairstown. “That’s out of our hands,” Shannon said.

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