Lee County has once again agreed to give Keokuk Area Hospital more than $100,000. This makes it more than $200,000 in fewer than 12 months.
The final vote by the Lee County Board of Supervisors for this latest contribution was 4-1.
Those voting for it were Chairman Ernie Schiller, Vice Chairman Matt Pflug, Gary Folluo and Rick Larkin while Supervisor Ron Fedler opposed it.
Pflug says the board realized how important this money is to the hospital.
“It’s about saving human lives. I mean, how do you put a dollar figure on something like that?”
Pflug says it was also an economic development move.
“It becomes such a bigger picture (if the hospital closes). People without money, they are not making their salaries, (so) they are not spending their money in the communities.”
It took nearly three months to resolve this issue.
During that time, there were public discussions, private meetings, plenty of phone calls to supervisors, a possible illegal vote that was later rescinded, and a special meeting.
There is a chance that this process could repeat itself next year.
Keokuk Area Hospital has said it will request county money as long as the money can be used to match federal funding.
Pflug says anytime the county can help, it should.
“If you take (the) hospital out of (Keokuk), it not only affects south Lee County and Lee County, but it affects the neighboring states as well.”
One county supervisor has said this would be the last contribution he would support for the hospital.
That appears to be the reason why Schiller asked Pflug and Fedler to remain in contact with the hospital, so the lines of communication will be open in advance of another request.
Meanwhile, the Lee County Board of Supervisors is taking a hands-off approach to a proposed citizens committee, at least for the time being.
Mary Van Pelt of Montrose organized the recent taxpayer forum on the cost of county government. She’s now put together a committee to explore the pros and cons of one county seat versus two.
Van Pelt originally selected seven men and one woman, from throughout the county, to serve with her on the panel. The initial line-up could change, though, to seek gender-balance.
Van Pelt says no matter who is on the committee, she is confident they will be up to the task.
She believes this committee will eventually make a recommendation on how and where Lee County services should be offered to the Board of Supervisors.
How open the supervisors will be to that remains to be seen, as at least one member has openly questioned the need for such a committee.
Van Pelt says the need is based on the supervisors not taking action about one county seat or two.
Chairman Ernie Schiller told Van Pelt, this week, to get her committee together and to start working on the final membership.
Schiller says the board has yet to decide whether it will formally recognize the committee, which could force it to operate under Iowa’s open meetings law, something Van Pelt wants to avoid.