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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Sheriff, court, register of deeds present tentative 2025 budgets

Updated: Jun 27

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend made a point to express his disappointment that county commission Chair Danny McCullough was not available to hear his 2025 budget presentation on Monday, June 24. 

McCullough was out of town but attended the morning session of the meeting by teleconference but was not available for the the sheriff’s budget presentation. Commissioners Jim Johnson and Jason Hightower were at the meeting.

“I am saddened to see that Danny is not here,” Friend said, “because a lot of that information he specifically requested. But nevertheless we’ll talk to you about who we are and then what we spend the money on from our project.”

McCullough has been adamant about department heads presenting comprehensive budget plans and then talking about their department’s goals and policies. The sheriff’s tentative budget was one of several presented by department heads at the Monday session.

Friend used text-reading software to make the lengthy and detailed prerecorded presentation, which explained who the people who work for the sheriff’s department are, their positions and what they do, and what the project is doing for the county.

Some of the increases in the budget are $900 for the food, two new patrol officers, increase of $5,000 in commodities because of prices going up, costs for training new officers, capital outlay up $6,000, insurance up approximately $4,000, utilities up about $5,000 and increases for contractual services.

Friend offered a suggestion on the personnel tax clearance at the request of Commissioner Jim Johnson.

When an employee is hired, it would be rather simple, the sheriff said. His office would require that individual to meet with the county treasurer, who would certify that that they are not past due in their county taxes. From then on, Friend said, that same process would be done every several years. 

“I mean if you’re living on the tax dollar, your taxes ought to be paid and that would be my suggestion as a future policy that Linn County would consider the implementation of,” he said. 

The commissioners chose to wait until McCullough was available next week to tentatively approve the sheriff’s budget.

Judge Purvis outlines district court budget

The Sixth Judicial District court’s 2025 budget of $195,300, which remained the same as the 2024 budget, was tentatively approved by all three commissioners with Commission Chair Danny McCullough attending on teleconference. 

District Court Clerk Lori Simmons and Judge Andrea Purvis told the commissioners that the sound in both court rooms was insufficient. Purvis said the people in the gallery for spectators could not hear what the judge was saying. She said that attorneys have been complaining.

Purvis continued and told the commissioners that people in the jury deliberation room can be heard in the courtroom and vice versa. Because of that, they have to be sent out of the court area to the lobby.

She said that in Dickinson County, where she came from, a team of employees from a variety of departments did a walk-through several times before the building was completed to find the concerns.

Purvis said she had checked with a company that tests buildings for sound issues, and it would cost about $4,500 for both courtrooms and the jury room to be tested. 

She said that the company does not do the work to correct the problem, they just recommend the solutions to the problem.

As McCullough jumped into the discussion, Purvis and Simmons looked at the ceiling and around them, not realizing that he was attending via teleconference.

McCullough said that there should be standards that need to be met and it should have been brought up before the county released the retainage to Goldberg, the company that built the Justice Center.

Purvis said that it was not noticed until just a couple of months ago when the first jury trial was held. She said that she had mentioned it to maintenance and Chris Martin, county information technology (IT) director.  

County Counselor Mark Hagen said that this needed to be investigated and decide what needs to be fixed.

McCullough said he wanted to start by reaching out to Goldberg.

“This is Goldberg’s problem not ours,” said McCullough.

Purvis said “My biggest concern is getting it done quickly.”

McCullough then started to question them about why Linn County Attorney Burton Harding’s salary had to be increased. McCullough questioned whether it was because another judge had been added to the docket and more cases were being held.

Simmons said that they have always had a magistrate judge that came to the county.

Hagen told McCullough that he was talking with the wrong people and this was an issue that he needed to take up with Harding.

Register of Deeds budget gets tentative approval

The three commissioners tentatively approved the Register of Deeds 2025 budget of almost $156,400.

Register of Deeds Kristy Schmitz went over the highlights of her budget. She explained to the commissioners that in 2023 the office had collected nearly $158,000 in recording fees and copy fees. She said that she was projecting for 2024 around $155,000, depending on what the economy does.

She told them that she had a balance in her technology fund of nearly $19,400, and it will be allocated for her software replication and maintenance fees.

She pointed out that she does have online search revenue coming in, and right now, that has a balance of $6,000, which will go toward that maintenance fee.

McCullough asked Schmitz to give everyone and overview of what her office does.

Schmitz read from the statute that the recorder of deeds is the recorder and keeper of the documents regarding the ownership of all county land. She stressed that their number one priority was their responsibility to the public.

She said that the office serves as an information center, receives requests from abstractors, realtors, banks, attorneys and the public for all sorts of documents and information. The staff assists visitors who are conducting ancestry searches and genealogy.

She said they were responsible for the preservation of all records, the collection of fees and the recording and filing of documents.

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