County Seats/Conservation
7:59 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Busy Night Upcoming for Lee County Board

The night's agenda includes a recommendation from the committee examining the options on offering county services in one or both county seats and a possible vote on a new building for the Lee County Conservation Office.

A pair of hot topics could result in a late night for the Lee County Board of Supervisors come Tuesday, July 22.

A scheduling conflict for Chairman Ernie Schiller forced the panel to change its meeting time from 9:00 A.M. to 6:30 P.M.

COUNTY SEAT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

How the south Lee County courthouse fares in the eyes of the County Seat Advisory Committee remains to be seen.
How the south Lee County courthouse fares in the eyes of the County Seat Advisory Committee remains to be seen.

Organizer Mary Van Pelt said the committee will review the four options it has considered with the supervisors.

  • Leave Services in Current Locations
  • Consolidate Into One Location
  • Restore All Services to Keokuk & Fort Madison
  • Return the Drivers' License Bureau to Keokuk

She said once that is complete, the committee will make a recommendation to the supervisors.

Van Pelt admitted the process has frustrated her, in particular because of the lack of public participation in the process.

The committee has held about a dozen open meetings across the county, but only a handful of people have attended.

She said in her opinion, people are staying home because they think the committee was decided from the start on what it would recommend to the county board, even though she said not true.

“I’ve really been hurt over how this committee has been treated and talked about and how myself have been talked about.”

Van Pelt said the committee has relied on facts and figures along the way, not emotions.

She said regardless of the recommendation, she will advise the supervisors to hire an expert from Iowa State University to further study the issue to eliminate any claims of bias.

CONSERVATION BUILDING

Meanwhile, there is once again talk of a new building for one Lee County department.

Some of the damage from a lightning strike at the Lee County Conservation Office in late April.
Some of the damage from a lightning strike at the Lee County Conservation Office in late April.

A lightning strike in late April that damaged the office of the Conservation Department is forcing employees to work out of a temporary trailer.

The office needs at least$50,000 in repairs and its current value is only $55,000.

Instead of immediately making repairs, the Conservation Board wants to take another look at a new facility with a nature center.

Conservation Director Tom Buckley said a previous proposal for a new building has been scaled back to a cost of about $500,000.

If the county borrows the money for it, taxpayers would need to provide a couple extra dollars each year for 10 years.

Budget Director Cindy Renstrom said, for example, a $130,000 home in the city would pay less than $4 annually.

Vice Chairman Matt Pflug said the Board of Supervisors will consider this.

"I was pleasantly surprised if that is what it is going to cost the taxpayers. However, there are some things I want to look at.”

The Lee County Conservation Board said it will wait until the supervisors make a decision on July 22 before proceeding with any improvements.