What does a county supervisor really do?

In my four and a half years of being a Marshall County supervisor, I am finding the public has some confusion as to what my role and responsibilities are in county government.

The journey starts with the election process of winning the primary in June prior to the November election. Marshall County has three supervisors compared to five in many counties in the state. Two of the supervisors are elected or reelected in a regular election cycle and two years later the third supervisor is elected so there is overlap of experience for the county. All are elected for four-year terms.

Immediately after a new supervisor takes office on the first business day of January, they are immediately thrust into the budget process which has been going on for a month previous to swearing in. All three supervisors meet with each department head and review the coming years budget line by line. This process is done with all county departments and has to be completed by March. The outcome of the budget discussions has an effect on the final levy rate taxpayers are required to pay on property. The supervisors are the last line of defense in keeping taxes under control.

Some of the topics reviewed with department heads during this time are the need for additional employees, major equipment expenses, building projects and road projects. We generally have approximately $24 million of tax revenue to divide between all of the departments in the county. This is also the time decisions are made on the funding of projects such as county libraries, YSS and the Central Iowa Fair to name a few. This process may be the most critical part of our job.

Running a close second are the various boards and commissions we sit on. Between the three supervisors, we are a part of at least 20 different entities. A small cross section would be Iowa Workforce, CIJDC (Central Iowa Juvenile Detention), the 911 Commission, MICA (Mid Iowa Community Action), Marshall County Landfill and CICS (Central Iowa Community Services). Participation on these boards is vital to the success of these entities and quorums are always required to conduct business and make decisions. Commitment to this part of the job is important and necessary.

Our department heads hire their own people when necessary but when department heads leave or retire from the county, it is the responsibility of the supervisors along with our auditor to find and interview replacements. We recently filled the vacant county attorney position along with the county sheriff.

County business is taken care of every other Tuesday at 9:05 a.m. Those board meetings are being held in the Grand Courtroom of the Marshall County Courthouse because access to live streaming is necessary for the public to observe and participate.

With the tornado and derecho damage to our courthouse and other county buildings, our plate has become even more full as day-to-day correspondence with contractors, architects and county employees involved with bringing these buildings back to life evolves.

This is just a quick 1,000-foot overview of what Marshall County Supervisors deal with on a daily basis. I can confidently speak for all of the supervisors that they are committed to getting the biggest bang out of every tax dollar available to us.


Steve Salasek is a Marshall County Supervisor.


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