On hold

Supervisors table 28E agreement on 911 communication services

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS
A 28E agreement among Marshall County, the City of Marshalltown, the Marshall County Emergency Management Commission and the county 911 Joint Services Board for joint emergency communications services was discussed at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. The item was tabled by the board after the discussion. Pictured from left, Board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson, Board Chairman Bill Patten, Board member Steve Salasek and Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS A 28E agreement among Marshall County, the City of Marshalltown, the Marshall County Emergency Management Commission and the county 911 Joint Services Board for joint emergency communications services was discussed at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. The item was tabled by the board after the discussion. Pictured from left, Board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson, Board Chairman Bill Patten, Board member Steve Salasek and Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance.

A final decision to sign a new agreement on joint 911 services will have to wait.

Over the past year, officials from Marshall County, the City of Marshalltown, the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and the Marshall County 911 Joint Services Board have discussed entering an agreement for joint 911 communications services throughout the county.

“They’re basically trying to come up with a way of governing this new levy,” said EMA coordinator Kim Elder of the four entities involved in the potential 28E agreement, which would, among other things, see the formation of the Marshall County Communications Commission.

She added the commission would, if the agreement goes through, govern that levy. Currently, she said the funding for 911 employee salaries and benefits is split between city and county funding.

But during the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, the resolution approving the agreement was tabled after discussion among county and city residents, Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance and the board.

“We are not reducing taxes for the 911; we are changing [to] a different mechanism for the collection of those taxes,” said board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson of the potential agreement. “In doing so, on your tax statement, it will come through under the Emergency Management levy.”

Residents who spoke at the meeting included Reed Riskedahl, Otto Brandt and Mark Eaton, all of Marshalltown. They were critical of the Marshalltown city government, particularly on the potential use of the estimated $580,000 budgeted for the 911 salaries and benefits this current fiscal year.

They expressed their opinions that such moneys should be given back to Marshalltown taxpayers if the new agreement were to take effect.

“I would like to table this issue, give the city some more time to discuss this in their budget discussions, to give a more definitive answer to what their intent and their clarity is,” said board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson during the meeting.

Lowrance said the city hasn’t yet set its budget for next year, and did not want to make promises about use of moneys that aren’t currently budgeted.

“I will address this through the budget process, but if you’re asking for, or demanding, commitment on what we will do, we can’t do that,” he said. “We may reduce taxes, we may offset, but I can’t say that’s a firm commitment because that’s, again, part of the budget process.”

The mayor added that variables important to the city’s budgeting process, like property valuations, will not be known until January of 2018. He also shared concerns about possible lack of state backfill funding in the next year.

Lowrance and Thompson said the potential 911 agreement is not a measure to reduce taxes. Lowrance described it as “an equitable way of raising the revenue necessary to finance 911 operations.”

From a county perspective, Thompson said the goal is for such a move to have a “net zero” effect on the taxpayers.

“Whatever dollar amount we are currently levying within our budget, that money will disappear from our budget, it will not be levied from the county’s perspective; it will be levied from the Emergency Management perspective,” he said, adding the county currently levies approximately $339,000 for 911 salaries and benefits.

Lowrance said the city is not in a position to commit to such a move on their end.

“The prudent thing to do is to use the process,” he said. “I know people get tired of the lengthy process that you have to use in government, but some of them actually do work, and the budgeting process is one of them that works.”

A county Emergency Management meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Building, 2369 Jessup Ave.

In other business

A first reading of an amendment to the county’s Platting and Zoning Ordinance No. 10 was discussed and approved at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. Jon Kunc of Marshall County Planning, Zoning and Environmental Health said the new language refines the ordinance, but does not change its nature.

The board also approved the Mid Iowa Antique Power Association (MIAPA) to pursue grant funding to place a concrete floor in the dining hall area of the county building at the sheriff’s office.

MIAPA President Phil Tetzloff said the group will seek a grant from the Marshall County Community Foundation for the project.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 12 in meeting room No. 2 on the third floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com