• Last modified 925 days ago (Dec. 9, 2021)


County works on wish list

Staff writer

County commissioners devoted considerable time at their meeting Monday to drafting their Christmas wish list.

Instead of writing to Santa, however, the county will be applying for funding under the federal government’s American Rescue Plan, designed to bolster infrastructure and provide a healthier environment in response to COVID-19.

With commissioner David Mueller ranking various ideas on an oversized tablet like those placed on easels during brainstorming meetings, commissioners tried to match items on their wish list with sources of funding under ARP and related pandemic programs.

Among items on the list were:

  • Raises for county employees who have been working with the public rather than at home during the pandemic.
  • Repairs needed to the dam at Marion County Lake.
  • Purchasing a top-of-the-line new ambulance.
  • Constructing new offices for the county health and emergency management departments, perhaps including storage to replace space the county will have to leave in January.
  • Creation of a countywide rural water district.
  • Improved broadband Internet access within the county.

Ambulance director Travis Parmley stuck around for the discussion after delivering his department’s regular monthly report.

He said his department’s workers had been noticing what other counties were doing to recognize sacrifices of employees working in potentially dangerous situations throughout the pandemic.

“If you’re looking at doing something for these employees, it would be appreciated,” he said.

One concern noted was that any new vehicles purchased with federal money could not be sold by the county after their useful life but would revert to federal ownership.

Buildings technically would fall into the same category, but several commissioners said the county rarely disposed of old buildings.

They did not note that it did so in 2018 with downtown Marion’s historic Bowron building, which formerly housed planning and zoning, the health department, and files used by other county offices.

In other business Monday, commissioners:

  • Told organizers to go ahead with plans to draft a formal resolution reinstating Leadership Marion County, which seeks to increase business and political acumen and identify a next generation of county leaders. “This is not an easy thing, but it’s a great thing for the county,” commission chairman Randy Dallke told organizer Anthony Roy, Hillsboro’s economic development director. “Whatever it takes. Just keep us in mind.”
  • Approved spending roughly $11 per copy for Baker Brothers of Hillsboro to print between 100 and 200 updated guides to issues and resources prepared by Gayla Ratzlaff, director of the county’s department on aging. “Last time I did it, I did 500,” Ratzlaff said, “and a lot of them sat in boxes.”
  • Approved a previously discussed policy on citizens speaking at commission meetings. “We just want to make sure nothing is perceived as suppression,” commissioner Jonah Gehring said. “In fact, it is more linked to the public having a voice.”
  • Adopted previously discussed specifications for hiring an attorney to handle sale of tax-delinquent properties. In doing so, however, they heard a warning of potential “sticker shock.” County counseler Brad Jantz said bids were likely to be much higher than what the county had been paying Susan Robson to prepare tax sales before her appointment as a district judge. Commissioners also voted to include language designed to give preference to local title companies in preparing for tax sales.
  • Discussed myriad loose ends that need to be tied up before the county formally can establish a land bank, which would attempt to repurpose disused property.
  • Spent 20 minutes behind closed doors discussing unspecified contract negotiations with Spencer and Jantz.

Last modified Dec. 9, 2021