Supervisors agree to pay for part of property seller’s septic work

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Realtor Kristina Reece, left, and Marshall County Zoning Administrator Todd Apfel, right, engage in a discussion over a request that the county cover a portion of the septic inspection for the seller of a rural State Center property. The board of supervisors ultimately agreed to pay $540 of the $2,246 invoice.

After a lengthy and at times contentious exchange between Marshall County Zoning Administrator Todd Apfel and realtor Kristina Reece during Tuesday morning’s regular meeting, the board of supervisors voted unanimously to pay $540 for “extra work” a local excavating company performed for the seller of a rural State Center home as a result of not having information she felt the county’s Information Technology department should have provided.

County IT Director James Nehring explained that the department has been transitioning between software programs and facing difficulties “meshing up” schedules with the individual who had been helping the department with permitting data — including for septic systems and time of transfer inspections — but Apfel added that a total of 86 septic inspections have been performed since the switch over without the maps.

“We’ve had some grumblings, but nobody has issued any complaints. They’ve been able to find it and do it and get it done,” Apfel said.

Apfel also challenged Reece’s assertion that an employee with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources had told her the county should pay part of the costs involved. He contended that the three laterals on the parcel of land were easily identifiable and added that the same company hired to do the work installed the system in the first place.

Reece, who represented the seller, then took her turn to speak and said not having the permit from Marshall County was the reason the time of transfer inspection had to be conducted as if the system was never there.

“In turn, you can’t just stand on the property and assume where the D box is and where the laterals are,” she said. “This should not have been on the sellers.”

Initially, Reece asked the board to cover half of the $2,246 invoice from Schoppe Construction and Excavating, the company that performed the inspection, and she also accused Apfel of making disparaging comments about the IT department, which he denied. Apfel said he didn’t believe the county should pay any of it as none of the 85 other sellers had had the same issue.

In response, Reece wondered if she was the only one standing up for the sellers, and both she and Apfel claimed the other was being untruthful.

“It’s becoming just what you said vs. what I said, which is silly. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the whole issue of having to take this time of transfer like it was never there because of Marshall County not having what the inspector needed to actually start a job,” Reece said. “That’s what the issue is.”

County Auditor/Recorder Nan Benson said her understanding of the Iowa Code was that providing a past permit was a courtesy but not a legal requirement. Supervisor Bill Patten examined the invoice and determined that in his breakdown, only $540 constituted “extra labor” that wouldn’t otherwise have to be conducted as part of every inspection.

Although Apfel worried about opening up “Pandora’s Box” with future inspections, a motion from Patten to pay the $540 amount carried unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting, the board held a brief public hearing with no oral or written comments regarding a budget decrease in appropriations for fiscal year 2022-2023, adopted a resolution approving it and subsequently approved a reappropriation that increased the district court budget from $232,250 to $323,250 and the e911 towers budget from $677,500 to $1,380,000. In turn, the nondepartmental budget was reduced from $6,992,216 to $6,198,716.

During that discussion, Board Chairman Dave Thompson took the opportunity to call for increased funding for juvenile detention services in future budgets, citing the caseload — particularly, an uptick in violent crimes — and much longer stays at the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center in Eldora. When he was first elected to the board of supervisors in 2010, he said the average stay was around three days.

“We’re getting into a situation where a lot of these kids that are up in juvenile detention are what we’re calling ‘superpredators.’ They’re adult waived. They have absolutely nothing to lose in this situation because you can’t separate them (and) you can’t lock them down in their room,” Thompson said. “They move about freely with the rest of the population and the staff, and they think nothing of hauling off and literally assaulting either another child that’s there or another individual that’s in our employ at juvenile detention.”

He then recounted the story of an employee who had left the facility for a much lower paying job due to an assault, and Thompson added that he didn’t see the problem changing anytime soon. He ultimately suggested Marshall County should at least double its contribution in the future. The CIJDC currently serves 26 member counties, 25 affiliate counties and a handful of contract counties.

As Supervisor Steve Salasek was attending the meeting via Zoom and could not be there in person, the board opted to keep a decision on county funding for the radio tower usage and equipment replacement tabled until at least the next regular meeting.

In other business, the board:

Adopted a resolution approving the assignment of a tax sale certificate to the city of Liscomb for a property at 111 Dubuque St.

Approved the EMC insurance renewal.

Approved the compliance filing of an actuary report for the Marshall County Employee Health and Dental Plan for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022.

Approved setting a Dec. 1 deadline for outside agencies to request county funding.

Approved the closing statement and accepted a quit claim deed for 2.1 acres of property the county is acquiring from the city of Marshalltown at 901 E. Boone St. at a total cost of $18,363.45.

Approved the buildings and grounds policy as presented.

Authorized the hiring of workers and officials in connection with the upcoming 2022 general election, a pay raise for Carol Slifer of the election office staff to $15 per hour and the hiring of Phyllis Eygabroad at $13 an hour.


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