Centralizing County Government
4:35 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

More Talk of "One Lee County" in 2014

The new chairman of the Lee County Board of Supervisors wants to have more discussions about a controversial subject in 2014.

Lee County Board of Supervisors
Lee County Board of Supervisors

Lee County is the only county in Iowa with two county seats: Keokuk & Fort Madison.  County offices and services are basically split between the two cities.

Board Chairman Ernie Schiller has been an advocate for centralizing county government into one location since he joined the board in 2006.

He says he will use his second term as Chairman to work on that goal.

"The time is right that we look at one Lee County," says Schiller.

The first step in that process came when four departments were reorganized several years ago.

The operations for the County Auditor and Treasurer were moved to the north Lee County office building in Fort Madison while the County Recorder and Assessor set up shop in the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.

Each office had previously maintained a location in each city.

Schiller says the reorganization has been a success, even if some people still oppose it, because it saved the county hundreds of thousands of dollars and it added stability to staffing levels.

He says centralization could come up during budget discussions, which should get underway next week.

LEGISLATIVE ISSUE

The location of Lee County government could also be an issue in Des Moines this year.

State Senator Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) is considering introducing legislation that would require all county offices and services be available in both Keokuk and Fort Madison.

That would likely reverse the previously mentioned reorganization of those four offices.

Taylor did not want to get into specifics when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, saying the proposal is still under review.

The Iowa Legislature’s 2014 session gets underway on Monday.