Since Ordinance 61 was first introduced by County Sanitarian Kevin Luetters, it has been a hot button issue in Jasper County.
After five public hearings and two drafts, it all came to an end Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors finally approved the ordinance. Not everyone was pleased with the outcome.
“In summary, it’s our position that Ordinance 61 should not be passed for a third reading or should be sent back for further revision,” Central Iowa Water Association attorney Frank Smith said. “To do otherwise is going to potentially violate state law … and would potentially jeopardize the financial systems that have been put in place and are being operated.”
Smith and CIWA employee Duane Rozendaal repeatedly expressed their opposition to Ordinance 61 to the board and to Luetters during the final public hearing. The duo representing CIWA also questioned the legality and the fairness of the ordinance multiple times during the hearing. County Attorney Mike Jacobsen refuted the accusations of the ordinance violating state law.
“The ordinance, as written, incorporates the language (Iowa law) and that’s pretty standard amongst all the surrounding counties,” Jacobsen said. “The ordinance is fairly similar, (but) what we don’t have and what I’m fairly certain Rural Water is looking for is a timeframe.”
“The DNR doesn’t have a timeframe in their standard rule either,” Jacobsen continued. “There isn’t a single county around us that has set a timeframe and I don’t think Jasper County should be the first.”
Smith reiterated that CIWA is a non-profit company and they were seeking a way to help improve the law.
“I think (CIWA) is being made in the bad guy here,” Rozendaal said. “I don’t want people to think we are beating on their doors trying to make them hook up.”
“All we are asking for is uniformity,” Smith said. “We are not unreasonable people. The ordinance could be so much better than it is.”
Despite the debate and last minute lobbying from CIWA, Ordinance 61 was passed unanimously by the board.
The public hearing on the road vacation of West 96th Street North was open and shut. County Engineer Russ Stutt presented the board with the four letters he received from people within the vicinity of the road and said he notified citizens within a mile of the location of the road of the hearing via a letter. The board approved the road vacation.
Stutt also asked the board to approve funding to replace a closed bridge located at Meadow Avenue over Cherry Creek. The project would initially be paid for 100 percent by the county and then the county would be reimbursed 80 percent by the Iowa Department of Transportation. This was also approved and has an expected cost of $550,000 before IDOT’s reimbursement and does not currently have an expected completion date.
Jasper County Network Administrator Ryan Eaton and Jasper County Information Technology Department Head Celia Robertson received approval from the board on creating a new fiber line system for the county. The fiber lines would stretch from the courthouse to the armory and another line could go from the courthouse to the county engineer’s office.
The new lines would allow the county to immediately back up data and were cited as cost savers by both the board and Eaton and Robertson. The fiber would also allow county operations to continue at any of the three locations in the event of a disaster, according to Robertson.
Communication Innovators of Pleasant Hill had the lowest bid and will do the instillation. Their bid was $39,332.12 for laying fiber from the courthouse to the armory and $89,260.16 for the courthouse to the engineer’s office. A notable client of CI is Iowa State University, which gave CI a glowing testimonial on its website.
Jasper County Deputy Auditor Tina Mulgrew filled in for County Auditor Dennis Parrott and oversaw the boards finalizing of the Capital Loan Notes agreement they reached with FTN Financial Capital Markets of Memphis, Tenn. The sale to FTN will save the county $122,100 and the board approved four separate resolutions to conclude the agreement.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.