County supervisors receive more funding requests
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
It’s budget season and that means the Henry County supervisors are greeting numerous visitors — both county department heads and county organizations making their requests for funding during fiscal 2018.
Two more department heads and a like number of organizations made their pitch during Thursday’s regular supervisor meeting. Henry County Attorney Darin Stater and Joe Buffington, county director of planning and zoning, gave budget presentations.
Meanwhile, the Henry County Fair board and Iowa Wesleyan University made their annual requests for funding.
Stater, who presented a $425,376 fiscal 2018 budget compared to $413,870.17 for the current fiscal year, said he is planning some staff realignment and adding a part-time employee during the coming fiscal year.
“We could probably use another full-time person but I am not going to (add a full-time person),” Stater said. “Our staff has an additional 35-40 percent workload due to the conversion to electronic filing (of court documents).”
He said he did move one employee from part-time to full-time recently and also will add a part-time (10 hours per week) employee in September to handle clerical duties and serve as a backup in other areas.
Buffington’s budget called for the same amount, $98,974, in expenditures as this year. He also asked for a 5-percent salary increase.
Steve Brimhall, treasurer of the Henry County Fair, bumped up the fair’s funding request from $10,000 to $23,000. “I am basing that request on what the Jefferson County Fair gets from the county, which is $23,000,” Brimhall said. He also mentioned that the Washington County Fair is funded $34,000 by the county.
Reviewing last year’s fair, Brimhall said the fair had income of $40,000, received $10,000 from the county and $17,500 from the state. Expenses for 2016 were $57,000.
He said the fair board is in the process of saving money on the capital side. “We are saving money to build an air-conditioned building out there in conjunction with Old Threshers and the city. The grandstand roof also leaks. If it needs repair, the cost will be shared by the fair, city and Old Threshers.”
Brimhall said he is fearful that revenue from the demolition derby — one of the fair’s largest income sources — will continue to decline. “The demo derby makes $8,500 now. It is getting more difficult to get cars. The demo derby used to make $10,000.
In addition to the aforementioned revenue sources, donations from businesses and individuals around the county accounted for $9,500, but Brimhall said it is difficult to ask businesses and individuals for donations. “That is the worst part of being on the board. Nobody wants to go out and beg for money.”
He said the biggest complaint the board hears from citizens is the lack of a carnival at the fair. “There are probably 50 county fairs in Iowa in July, so how are you going to get a carnival when 50 carnivals are operating in a month?”
Finally, Brimhall said the fair has been fiscally responsible. “I need the increase in funding. I think we’ve been efficient with finances and controlling expenses as best we can.”
Jim Pedrick, chief fund-raiser for Iowa Wesleyan University (IWU), said the school is requesting $10,000 in fiscal 2018. For the current fiscal year, IWU received $5,000 from the county.
The college’s funding comes from county local option sales tax receipts.
“Your money has been put to good use,” Pedrick told the supervisors. “I think we are on the uptick. Our enrollment is up and next year we will be offering our first master’s degree.”
County money during the current fiscal year was used primarily for marketing, Pedrick said, and the five-year strategic plan. He said that 37 of the initiatives in the five-year plan have been completed or nearly finished.
There are two major building projects on the IWU short-term agenda, Pedrick reported. One is a new wellness, fitness and athletic center on campus, but also will be open to the community.
“That will be the biggest nut to crack,” Pedrick remarked, referring to the wellness center. “It will be a community project.”
IWU also hopes to establish a technology resource center to provide student, faculty and staff technological support and training, he said.
Supervisors will take action on the department budgets and funding requests as they draft the fiscal 2018 budget.
Next meeting for the board will be Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9 a.m., in the Henry County Courthouse.