Supervisors’ budget talks continue
The Jasper County Board of Supervisors conducted budget talks with three more county department heads Thursday afternoon.
Jasper County Engineer Russ Stutt said his budget would remain about the same for the next fiscal year, discounting wages and salaries. A line item for $1 million was removed from the fiscal year 2012-13 budget, intended as matching funds for a paving project on North 39th Avenue East, near the biodiesel plant. Stutt said the project won’t be done next fiscal year, although it remains in the five-year plan.
Likewise, no money has been budgeted for next fiscal year for the Van Zante Bridge in the south part of the county. The bridge is embargoed at three tons, and has been in need of repair for several years, however the nearly $1.5 million price tag has been prohibitive. Funding could be restored next year, Stutt said.
Stutt added that no money was put in the budget for next year for another county building, The county has not yet received FEMA money for flooding damage that occurred in 2010. Those funds could be used to build another county building near Baxter to house motor graders. The plan, Stutt said, is to have county buildings situated throughout the county for quick response by motor grader drivers during inclement weather.
Motor grader buyback will occur this April, and $500,000 has been budgeted for that. Through the buyback program, Stutt said costs for the machines average out to about $9,000 per year to operate. At an average of 1,000 hours per machine, that equals operating costs of about $9 per hour.
County Conservation Board director Keri Van Zante said that she is still waiting for FEMA money to repair the Chichauqua Bike Trail, washed out in the flooding of 2010 just west of Valeria. Jasper County’s portion of the cost would be about $400,000, with an 85 percent FEMA cost share.
The problem arises, however, with FEMA officials who don’t want to pay for a portion of the trail they say would be damaged by trucks during the repair of the wash-out. Van Zante said there was another access point to the damaged area through farm fields, but FEMA would be required to lay gravel for the truck access and remove the gravel after the job is finished because it can’t make additional improvements to adjacent land.
Kelli Van Manen, director of Jasper County Elderly Nutrition, told the supervisors that her department is no longer getting commodities through the US Department of Agriculture. The goods supplied through USDA were unusable for day-to-day operations, like dried cherries and turkey ham. Her budget will go up slightly for next fiscal year due to food prices, but otherwise there will be no significant increase in the Elderly Nutrition budget.
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