By Ken Ross, Managing Editor
The discussion was general regarding future cooperation between Cherokee County and Cherokee (and possibly other towns in the county) at the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
Nothing specific was proposed but the idea of sharing services was brought to the supervisors by Ron Strickland, Cherokee city manager, and supervisors indicated that they were receptive to the idea of further exploration of the matter, particularly in light of a state committee recommendation that municipalities, counties and school districts consolidate services to create operating efficiencies.
"We need to look at this before it slaps us in the face real hard," Strickland said.
At a previous city council meeting, Ron Johnson, council member, had specifically raised the possibility of combining law enforcement efforts. At the Tuesday supervisors meeting, Strickland mentioned the possibility of using the county attorney's office for legal advice.
"There are differences in our entities but we can explore what mutually makes sense," Ron Wetherell, supervisor chairman, said.
"This ought to be looked into," Jeff Simonsen, supervisor said.
"There are things we could join hands on, but maybe not everything," Bud Clow, supervisor, said.
"I'd rather we did something ourselves than wait to be forced to do it," Terry Graybill, supervisor, said.
A mechanism for sharing services, facilities or other government assets between different government entities is available through 28E agreements, referring to the section of the Iowa Code enabling such cooperation.
There are many such agreements already operating in Cherokee County including multi-county agreements used to operate such facilities as the Youth Emergency Services Center, a juvenile detention facility at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute campus.
The city and the county currently have a contractual agreement to share the Law Enforcement Center with the city leasing space from the county for the police department at 1/4 of the maintenance and the utility costs. The county has attempted to move away from sharing space with the police department, at one time attempting to buy out the police departments space in the building and subsequently developing plans for an expansion that includes separate entrances and separation of utilities.
In the discussion on Tuesday, it was suggested that a study of potential sharing opportunities be undertaken by the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO).
Darrel Downs, mayor of Marcus, said that it would be good to have a disinterested party make suggestions.
Richard Vogt, mayor of Aurelia, was also present for part of the meeting.
Darrell Downs and Sherree Ogren presented a request for the county to help with the purchase of a new heater for the Marcus Municipal Pool. A committee has already raised $4,700 toward the $12,430 needed to replace the heater which quit working last year.
The request made was for a contribution of $5,000 from the county. It was noted that a use survey over two days indicated that about half of those who use the pool are from outside the Marcus city limits.
Bonnie Ebel, auditor, noted that the state has allocated $97,000 to Cherokee County for voting machine purchase. Upgrading voting machines are being mandated for all counties.
A public viewing of two types of voting machines will take place on April 19.
"I'm disappointed we have to do anything to our voting system. The counts are accurate," Wetherell said.