Supervisors vote down housing trust fund contribution
By a split vote, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors rejected a request for a $37,581 annual contribution to the Region 6 Housing Trust Fund during Tuesday morning’s regular meeting.
Marty Wymore, who serves as the executive director of Region 6 Resource Partners, was in attendance to present the request and explain the mission of the trust fund, which provides assistance to low-income homeowners who wish to make improvements — anything from roof, siding and window repairs to furnace and sewer upgrades — and has also helped developers create low-income rental units within the county.
“We’ve done a variety of repairs to basically assist homeowners in staying in their homes and likewise preserving the affordable housing stock we have across Marshall County and the region,” Wymore said.
The primary beneficiaries of the funding in recent years have been the Tallcorn and former Iowa Wholesale buildings downtown and the State Street loft project, which is still in development. Wymore said that if the requested local contributions were secured, Region 6 could potentially access about $414,009 in grant funds from the Iowa Finance Authority.
While the county was receiving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars on the Harvester project in rural Rhodes, regulations stipulated that a portion be set aside for low-to-moderate income housing. Thus, the county contributed $27,750 to the trust fund in 2021, $25,753 in 2020, $36,530 in 2018, $36,530 in 2017 and a total of $66,530 across two payments in 2016 for a total of just over $193,000 over the last six years, according to Auditor/Recorder Nan Benson.
Now that the TIF period has expired, however, any contribution would now have to be drawn from the county’s general basic fund, and Board Chairman Dave Thompson and Supervisor Bill Patten expressed hesitation about supporting such a move for that reason.
Thompson asked Wymore for a breakdown of how much of the money went to owner-occupied homes as opposed to rental properties, and he responded that other than contributions totaling $400,000 to the three aforementioned rental building projects, the rest has gone to help about 100 Marshall County homeowners make improvements with the average project qualifying for about $15,000 in assistance.
Ultimately, a motion to approve the contribution failed by a 2-1 vote, with Thompson and Patten opposing it and Supervisor Steve Salasek voting in favor. During a subsequent interview, Thompson said he didn’t see a great benefit to Marshall County taxpayers in contributing out of the general fund, citing the example of Region 6 contributions to the Iowa Wholesale building nearly matching its assessed valuation.
“I’ve been very vocal these last three years (that) when the Harvester TIF dried up and these funds would have to come out of the general basic portion of our budget, that I struggled to support it,” he said. “From a business perspective, it doesn’t give the county a real good return on investment.”
Thompson said he would be more likely to support a revised request if the funds were only used to support owner-occupied housing.
Wymore expressed disappointment about the decision, noting that the other three counties comprising Region 6 — Hardin, Poweshiek and Tama — had all routinely approved their yearly contributions. He still plans to explore other funding options to reach the threshold before the deadline in 30 days, including individual cities within Marshall County, private nonprofit organizations and developers.
“It’s unfortunate now that we’re in this position, but we’ll scramble to find some options moving forward,” Wymore said. “We don’t want to lose the money.”
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a host of personnel changes, including a shuffling of the Veterans Affairs Commission with Laurel Degelau joining as the newest commissioner and Julie Miller resigning from her post as a commissioner but moving into a part-time administrative assistant role at an hourly pay rate of $17.47. Ian Winfield was hired as a new sheriff’s deputy at a wage of $28.37 an hour along with new jailer Justice Dannen at a rate of $20.41 per hour. Sheriff Joel Phillips said the department was “almost back to a full staff” and expressed excitement about the hires.
The board opted to leave a decision about the Marshall County Communication Commission’s request for county funding on the emergency radio project access and maintenance fees tabled, with Patten suggesting taking “a little bit more time” before putting the item to a vote.
In other business,the board:
• Approved a lease with First Interstate Bank (formerly Great Western Bank) for the temporary use of courthouse office space at 11 N. First Ave. in Marshalltown.
• Approved the extension of unused vacation for Kim Elder through Sept. 1, 2023.
• Approved a band shell rental request for an Emerson employee event on Sept. 12.
• Approved a status change for Rob Crandon from TD2 to TD3 with a pay adjustment from $27.41 to $27.75 per hour.
• Approved a status change for Wesley Spencer from Mechanic 1 to Mechanic 3 with a pay adjustment from $27.72 to $27.88 per hour.
• Approved a copier lease with Xerox for veterans affairs and public health.
• Approved the consent agenda as listed.
Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or