News

Two courthouse offices will move to Lincoln School

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met Monday to approve a lease of the Lincoln School facility for its accessible offices while the courthouse elevator is out of service.

The board also received an update from the county’s mental health administrator, held a discussion about information technology services, and spoke with the county engineer about logging trucks on county roads.

Lincoln Learning Center

The supervisors approved a lease agreement with the Fairfield Community School District for the use of the Lincoln School building as a temporary office space while the elevator at the county courthouse awaits major repairs and upgrades this summer.

With the courthouse elevator offline, some county offices are not accessible for those with limited mobility. The elevator is scheduled for repairs beginning in mid-June and ending sometime in July. Until then, the county offices which see the most interaction with residents will be moved to the Lincoln School building where access is no problem.

The two courthouse offices are scheduled to move: the assessor’s office and clerk of court. Jefferson County Assessor Steve Wemmie said his office will move to Lincoln School Thursday. The clerk of court’s office has not announced when it will move to the school.

The lease allows the county to use the facility for $1 per month rent and utilities through the end of July and then on a month-to-month basis should the county need it longer. The school board approved and signed the lease this past Friday and now the county is clear to move in.

Mental health

Mental Health Administrator Sandy Stever updated the board on the county’s mental health department. A number of mental health statistics improved, yet funding for some mandated programs is still a concern.

Court-committed transports dropped dramatically in February to four instances, down from an average of a dozen or more per month. It’s not clear yet if this will form a trend, but the statistic underscores possible success with new programs rolled out in the past year. Use of the jail-diversion program and of drop-in centers also improved.

A number of mental health programs mandated by the state Legislature still have not been funded by the state and rural counties across Iowa are struggling to implement them with existing budgets.

There are also ongoing instances of mental health service providers experiencing extreme resistance in getting Medicaid reimbursements from insurance companies.

IT managed services

Kai Johnson of Marco Managed Services met with the board to open a dialogue about the county’s IT services. Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, MMS has 53 offices in the region and further afield, and 1,500 employees. Their Iowa offices are near Cedar Rapids.

The Iowa State Association of Counties will be performing an IT security assessment for the county’s IT infrastructure this summer. The board invited MMS to return after this and do their own comprehensive IT assessment and proposal.

Senate File 184

After updating the board on the county’s road situation, county engineer Scott Cline revisited the discussion on Senate File 184 which would allow the state to issue licenses to logging trucks to traverse Iowa’s county roads with loads up to 130,000 pounds unless otherwise posted.

It’s not clear that any of the county’s bridges can handle loads of that weight and most of the county’s bridges are not posted with weight limits. The cost of the analysis and signage can be upward of $2,000 per bridge at county taxpayer expense.

Supervisor Daryn Hamilton said that, in the worst case scenario, the county could have to analyze and replace signs on all 140 bridges in the county, which would cost about $300,000.

Cline presented the board with a Lee County Board of Supervisors resolution opposing Senate Study Bill 1045 and Senate File 184. With SF 184 having passed committee, the board agreed to take up their own version of the resolution and vote on it as soon as today.