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In addition to endorsing by letter a Trading Post Museum grant application, a report included elsewhere in this issue, the Linn County Commission heard a report on projections for a $1 hourly across-the-board county employee pay increase at its Feb. 21 weekly meeting, delayed a day because of the federal Presidents’ Day holiday.

David Lamb, master county clerk, said that income from inmates farmed from other counties to the new Justice Center jail is on pace to generate $840,000 this year. He computed the $1 hourly increase to cost the county $345,259.20 annually and noted that the jail’s projected farm-in income is $340,000 beyond the budgeted $500,000. For the rest of this year, Lamb said the $1 hourly increase would cost $292,000, below the expected jail income surplus.

“Is $1 an hour enough to keep employees here?” Lamb conjectured. “I don’t know, and I’m not expecting an answer today.”

In looking at the provided charts, Danny McCullough, Commission chair, asked about the wide range of worker’s compensation, with solid waste being the highest at a 5.96 percent rating. By comparison, sheriff’s office worker’s compensation is a 2.46 percent rating, and clerical/office rating is one-tenth percent.

Lamb said solid waste is the highest based on statewide claims.

“People working in offices rate pretty cheap on worker’s compensation,” Lamb said, “but they aren’t exposed to the same dangers.”

During the public works report on a 2-0 vote with Jason Hightower not present, the Commission granted Shaun West, the department’s field administrator, permission for a $10,874 expenditure if the courthouse boiler malfunctions and requires emergency repair before the end of the heating season.

West noted that the boiler is leaking between cells but wants to wait “until the weather changes to break them all down.” He said the cells and gaskets are replaced every five years.

“I can’t guarantee it will last that long,” said West in predicting its reliability to the heating season’s end. “I don’t want to come in, find water all over the floor, and have no plan.”

McCullough suggested that the Commission might consider an HVAC (heating/air conditioning/ventilation) upgrade “rather than repairing cells. I think the boiler is at the end of its life.”

The Commission also passed Resolution 2023-13 concerning surplus property, a Register of Deeds Office copier, that will be donated to the STARS (Southeastern Technical Academy for Rural Students) program at Pleasanton. Lamb reported that Kristy Schmitz, register of deeds, said no other county entity had interest in the machine, which is at the end of its maintenance contract “but working fine.”

Lamb said Dr. Jay Allen, STARS director, expressed interest if it were to be donated. Gary Thompson, county counselor, said the machine “won’t have much of a resale value,” and Lamb said it had no trade-in value when the new copier was purchased.

Not acted upon is a request by Chris Martin, county information technology director, to investigate implementation of a fire department digital radio system very similar to one already used by the Linn County Sheriff’s Department. Noting his research would require “a significant time issue,” Martin wanted the Commission’s interest before pursuing.

Martin said that, if the county does then decide to proceed, he would anticipate completion by fall of “forklifting” to digital between 80-100 hand-held radios. He admitted that city departments may not be ready by fall to switch over yet because of budgeting.

Jim Johnson, District 3 commissioner, said he would like to see the municipalities “pay for their own. We could maybe help them along this year until they can budget for themselves.”

Martin estimates $80,000-$100,000 for the project, possibly to be paid using accepted federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, “with a cost saving if you do it soon because of inflation.” In answer to McCullough, Lamb said the possible expenditure could also come from the county’s special equipment fund.

In other business before commissioners:

--Upon the recommendation of Randy Hegwald, county Emergency Management coordinator, Donnie Whitcraft was hired to the Mound City fire station and Cody Kiser to the Pleasanton station.

--West presented a memorandum of agreement with Walnut Township, Bates County, Missouri, on maintenance along State Line Road.

--The Commission approved a CDL (commercial driver’s license) training agreement with Enve McDaniel. In return for paying for the training, the county will receive 12 months of service or, if a shorter duration, a prorated reimbursement.

--Johnson issued a statement saying that a comment he made during the Feb. 13 meeting concerning Missy Lancaster, county health department director, had been “misconstrued over the microphone.” He alluded to Lancaster’s “integrity,” saying she “didn’t do anything wrong.”

--The Commission approved the previous week’s claims of $269,061.42.

--The Commission met in three executive sessions totaling 45 minutes for non-elected personnel and one for 10 minutes for legal attorney/client privilege.



LA CYGNE CITY COUNCIL - Wednesday, May 17, 2023


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