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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Resident questions commission on disbandment of fire board

Updated: Jun 30

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY  – During public comment at the Monday, June 24, Linn County Commission meeting, Parker-area resident Tom Kemper told the commissioners that he saw inconsistencies with the way the commission is making decisions. He also brought up the Insurance Services Office (ISO) scoring, which is used by insurance companies to determine property insurance premiums and is based on fire response times.

Referring to a commission conversation earlier in June about forming a county historical society, Kemper said that he thought it was Commission Chair Danny McCullough who said that an advisory board was needed to sort out the issues with this fund.

“Which, I am OK with scrutiny, but then last week you approved $150,000 fire truck with hardly any questions whatsoever,” said Kemper. “You got rid of a fire board back in January that has a budget of $500,000 to $800,000. So now, you have no scrutiny over that.”

In January, the commissioners voted to dissolve the county’s fire board which had been overseeing the fire department budget for years.

“So, I’m kind of looking at Jim and Danny a little bit on this because you guys seem to be a little more inconsistent in what you want,” state Kemper.

Kemper said he knew that now that the fire board was gone, the commission was going to have some grievances come forward from past and former employees. He asked what the process was.

“Does it go to the fire coordinator? Does it go to the county clerk? How does that work? Have there been any changes in the standard operating procedures (SOP) and the fire department to explain all that?” asked Kemper.

County Clerk David Lamb said that there was a grievance procedure in the employee handbook and he had grievance forms for employees to fill out.

Kemper said, “Jason last week you asked for a presentation on ISO. It didn’t get mentioned today. I’m just curious when that is going to happen?”

Kemper asked if he could be notified because he would like to hear the presentation.

Commissioner Jason Hightower said that his intention when asking for the ISO presentation is that it would be at the commission meeting at the podium in front of all of us. 

Kemper said that he had asked Lamb for a copy of the last ISO scoring card and he was looking for it. He said he would like to compare where the county is at today versus when the county got its 5-out-of-10 score back in 2017. He said that the county was due for a rescore any day now. 

The ISO rating is taken into consideration when an insurance company decides whether to insure or how much to charge for insurance. ISO is based on a grading system from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 representing a community without an effective fire service.

According to Fire Chief Randy Hegwald, buildings in Linn County cities and within five miles of city limits are rated a five. Outside of that area, buildings are rated 10.

Lower ISO scores usually translate into lower property insurance premiums for homeowners and business owners.

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