Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

September 26, 2013

Agan raises concern over phone bill

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

---- — Supervisor Craig Agan raised concern early on in Tuesday's regular Marion County Board of Supervisors' meeting, in regard to a claim presented by the Public Health Department. Claims are approved as part of the consent agenda, which is acted upon before any other County business.

The claim was for payment of a bill, in the amount of $23,450.65, for a new phone system and approximately seven new computers. Public Health Director Kim Dorn said the equipment was necessary to accommodate Mediacom, the department's new phone service provider, and will save money on monthly bills while increasing Internet speed. She said there will be no Marion County tax dollars used for this purchase.

“Those are all paid for through grants,” Dorn said. She said that if the board did not approve the claim, the grant money would be lost to the County, as it needed to be spent before the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30.

Agan's concern is that the County spent approximately $17,000 on a new phone system for Public Health when it moved into its current location, less than five years ago. Again believes it was “not good planning” on the department's part.

“Will we need to do this again a couple of years from now?” Agan asked. In regard to submitting the claim at the last board meeting before the federal deadline, Agan added, “Your timing is very poor.” He added that he would like to see the “end of year mindset” change.

Dorn said that if the claim was not approved, and Marion County lost the grant money, it would go to another county.

“We may as well spend it to help Marion County,” Dorn said.

Board Chairman Jim Kingery said he would have preferred to hold off on such purchases until the County has a full-time information technology director. The job description for that position is still under review and the position has not been posted. In the end, the claims, with the rest of the consent agenda, were approved by a vote of 2-1, with Agan voting nay.

The board also awarded Cushman Construction of Harvey the contract to demolish the Bussey Memorial Building. The County-owned building was deemed unsafe several months ago and will be taken down.

The County received four bids for the project. The low bid came from Price Construction of Albia for $21,848, but the supervisors wanted to keep the money in-county. The low bid from Marion County was from Tomorrow's Resources of Pella. Tomorrow's Resources bid $23,490 and Cushman bid $24,025. This includes filling in the “hole” left behind after demolition, and seeding. County dirt will be used, but the contractor is responsible for equipment and labor.

Agan was the first to say he wanted the board to consider Cushman. Kevin Van Weelden, owner of Tomorrow's Resources, said his bid was raised because he had asked a professional to do the seeding portion of the project.

“I wanted it done by a professional,” Van Weelden said.

“I have a couple concerns, but I don't know if I should bring them up right now,” Kingery said. Agan made a motion to award the contract to Cushman. Van Weelden asked what qualities Cushman had that his business does not, to earn the contract. He was not answered.

“Compared to Cushman, we are the low bid,” Van Weelden said. The contract with Cushman was approved by a vote of 2-0, with Supervisor Mark Raymie voting “present.” Raymie did not believe he had enough knowledge of the subject to choose one business over the other.

Other supervisors' notes:

• Approved work beyond right of way agreements with Martin Schneider, Lora De Geus and Wayne Collins.

• Approved a site plan for Fairview Christian Church. The church is planning an addition at 400 McKimber Street in Pleasantville.

• Sue Givens provided information regarding Iowa Workforce Development.

• In the supervisors' committee updates, Kingery said the Iowa Board of Aging voted to discontinue use of commodities in senior meals. Raymie reported that the position for County Engineer, with a new job description, has been posted. Current Engineer Roger Schletzbaum is retiring at the end of the year. Raymie is also working on the mental health redesign for the County. Agan reported that an offer has been made and accepted for a new landfill director. This individual should be in place by mid-October.

• The next regular board of supervisors' meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 9 a.m.