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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Budgets for economic development, health departments considered

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

MOUND CITY – With the presentation of the budgets on Monday, June 27, from the economic development and the health departments nearly all of the county budgets have been tentatively approved by the Linn County Commissioners.

Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower presented the economic development 2023 budget of $106,344 which represented a $14,344 increase from the 2022 budget. Commissioner Rick James reminded Hightower that the commissioners had been telling everyone with a budget increase that their budget might be cut back in the final budgeting process. Hightower said she understood that.

Hightower pointed out that there was a decrease in contractual from $38,000 to $30,000 because for the past three years the entire amount was not used. She said there was an increase in capital outlay from $3,000 to $10,000 for the environmental studies and some extra funds to address any remedial issues that might come out of those studies. There also was an increase of hours in the payroll to 40 hours.

Hightower said that her main goal for the next year was to develop the Industrial Park. She had just received three Request for Proposal (RFP) for doing Phase I environmental studies of the Linn County Industrial Park at Pleasanton and the county-owned lots at the La Cygne Industrial Park.

The studies will be a step toward getting them shovel-ready to market, she said. The proposals were from Terracon for $4,700, Environmental Works for $4,800 and from Olson Engineering for $7,000. Hightower said she did not need any action on those proposals, but she just wanted to get them in front of the commissioners. The commission took no action.

Next, Linn County Health Department Administrator Missy Lancaster updated commissioners on activities offered by the health department and presented her budget.

Lancaster reported that more than 200 people, at least 100 of which were children, attend the health and safety fair and the county baby shower on Friday, June 24. She said it was a great success with face painting and a lot of food. She said there were many thank yous from people attending.

Lancaster reported that COVID numbers are going up but from what she has seen people are not as sick as in earlier waves of the virus.

James mentioned that the mask mandate had been reestablished in Kansas City, Mo.

Lancaster presented her budget in the amount of $702,000.

County Counselor Gary Thompson pointed out that about $330,000 of that was actually tax revenue money and the rest was grant money. It was put in the budget so that the numerous grants that the health department received were able to be used.

Lancaster said that payroll was actually going down from $300,000 to $272,000 because that incorporates the one-time adjustment for outstanding work with COVID grants.

Lancaster reported on all the grants that were received in 2022 and some that will still be in the budget in 2023 and 2024, along with new ones that were available.

Commissioner Danny McCullough said that it looked like several grants were ending and he wondered how they would be replaced. Lancaster said that there were always grants out there to apply for to replace those grants.

Where is this grant money at if we get this much money, asked Commission Chair Jim Johnson.

Lancaster said the money from the grants is sent to the county clerk’s office when she sends in the health department’s quarterly reports.

Some of the grants were one-time pay for outstanding work from frontline individuals during COVID but others like the Women Infant and Children (WIC) grant regularly paid portions of employees salaries. She said that 85 percent of the nurse’s salary for WIC was paid by the $95,300 grant as well as 37 percent of the breast feeding coordinator’s salary.

Other grants paid for infrastructure that was needed to better serve people during COVID. One of these is being used to make a drive-through lane with an awning for people who come to the health department for COVID tests.

Lancaster said they received a $1,500 grant from Walmart to help purchase school supplies for children.

County Clerk David Lamb said that he had not had time to look at Lancaster’s budget before she presented it and he thought maybe some items needed to be redistributed. He said that the 2022 amended health department budget was $408,000 but it needed to be amended again to $554,000 to fit what was being spent from grants.

Lamb said having all of this grant information ahead of time will help in setting up next year’s health department budget.

Lamb and Lancaster will go over the budget before the next commission meeting to see if any changes need to be made.

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