The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday to discuss a number of items including the county budget for fiscal year 2019, county preference for ambulance service and to hear a proposal from Natel Broadband Internet about a new phone system for the county?s offices.
The closure of county offices for the Presidents Day holiday postponed Monday?s typical scheduling of the supervisors? meeting until Tuesday.
The board discussed a county budget of $13,024,945 for the coming fiscal year. The board unanimously approved it and the budget will now be sent to the state for certification. The process included two resolutions for the same budget amount, one for the appropriations by service area as required by the state, and the other by county departments. As departments can vary from county to county, the state uses a fixed list of service areas to standardize the budget certification process.
Some of the larger appropriations by department included $1.3 million for the board of supervisors, $2.8 million for the sheriff?s office and almost $4.5 million for the county engineer. During the discussion, supervisor Lee Dimmitt pointed out that the budget was levy neutral, although some items were not in the county?s control.
?We raised it in one fund and lowered it an equal amount in another fund,? he said. ?Basically our valuations were such that we were able to fund the budgets without increasing the levies. We worked very hard on this budget, but there are certain things that are beyond our control. Mental health is one of them as we no longer have jurisdiction over our mental health budget. That?s controlled by a region including seven other counties that dictates what we will spend.?
The board discussed and considered the county preference for ambulance service currently provided by a contract with Midwest Ambulance Service until September of 2020.
?I would like to see the board of supervisors recommend that the ambulance board should put the building blocks in place to provide for public ambulance service at the close of the current contract,? said Dimmitt, the board?s representative to the ambulance board.
Jefferson County, the city of Fairfield and the Jefferson County Health Center jointly fund ambulance service for the county, and will meet to discuss the service March 1.
Dimmitt expressed skepticism with third-party contracts adequately serving Jefferson County. High staff turnover, excessive hours and non-local staff members unable to find county addresses in a timely way are among his concerns. He added that the current contract does not guarantee a paramedic on each call, meaning that technicians responding to a call may only be certified for transport and be unable to do any treatment.
The board approved a motion to recommend building a plan for a public ambulance service and not pursuing a request for proposal from new private contractors to the ambulance board at their upcoming meeting.
President of Natel Broadband Internet Michael Schill and sales manager Wilson Napoleao presented a proposal for a new phone system for the county. The system could increase cost efficiencies and improve capabilities for county departments.
The board took no immediate action and discussed the next step of getting the proposal in front of county department heads. Natel also offered to look at existing costs for a comprehensive cost-savings analysis.
County Engineer Scott Cline reported that county road crews have removed snow and applied sand and salt to county roads in the wake of recent weather. He also pointed to a new type of snow plow blade being phased into service that improves snow removal by integrating a type of silicon coating.
Cline also noted a recent Iowa Department of Transportation news release advising Iowa drivers to evaluate the necessity of each trip during poor winter driving conditions, offering tips for safe winter travel and how to handle icy road conditions.