Economic development, emergency management and airport budgets tentatively approved by commissioners

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

MOUND CITY – Trying to make county-owned industrial park sites more attractive to potential buyers is a goal for Linn County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower. During a meeting with the Linn County Commission on Monday, June 21, she said she would like to use funds saved from the 2021 budget to make those lots more attractive.

Hightower said she was able to move $20,000 from this year’s budget into a contingency fund, largely money saved from no travel and conferences because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she had been waiting for that fund to build up because she had some ideas for the industrial parks.

But Hightower didn’t discuss it further until pushed for more detail by Commission Chair Rick James.

“I want to get utilities closer to industrial park lots,” she explained. Currently utilities are not on many of the properties and would need to be installed.

Hightower also said she wanted to explore hiring a company to construct digital layouts of the industrial parks so that prospective companies could better visualize how their operations would work there.

The commission gave tentative approval to Hightower’s 2022 budgets for economic development and for the Linn County Airport southeast of Pleasanton. Both budget requests were for the same budget as last year: $91,000 for economic development and $55,200 for the airport.

Hightower recently took over management of the airport following the departure of Jackie Messer, who had overseen the airport in addition to the county’s road and bridge department.

She told commissioners that she had eight people to serve on an airport committee and planned for the first meeting to be on July 1.

In other budget news, the director of emergency management for the county requested a decrease of $1,200 for his department for 2022.

Doug Barlet said his department was able to roll over $25,000 into next year’s budget. No conferences and resulting travel expenses was a large part of that, but Barlet said he was also able to cut nearly $13,000 total in contractual, commodity and equipment expenses for 2022.

At the same time, he asked for an additional $4,000 for overtime pay for his staff. He said that on occasion they needed to fill in during emergency situations and he need to compensate them.

Commissioners tentatively approved the emergency management budget of $148,600 for 2022, down from $149,800 for this year.

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