Guidelines for Marion County General Assistance were changed at this morning's Board of Supervisors' meeting.
The purpose for the change is to help stretch the department's budget. Mike Kuhn oversees General Assistance and recommended changing the number of times a family can receive assistance from three times a year to two.
This is only a guideline, and Kuhn stressed that if a family is facing dire straits, they could receive more benefits.
There are those who routinely call and seek assistance. Most counties in Iowa also have a two-time limit for assistance.
"I feel by reducing the number of times in 12 months, this will reduce the habitual clients who tend to collect off of the county every chance they have," Kuhn wrote in a memo to the supervisors. "By doing this, the budgeted dollars will last longer."
This change begins immediately, and will apply to future budgets. In addition, when families seek food vouchers, the limit will be $40 for most families. This is the amount Kuhn usually disperses to families for this.
In other supervisors' action, the board approved a resolution to enter into a loan agreement not to exceed $3.835 million for the purpose of refunding the outstanding balance of the County's general obligation law enforcement center bonds.
This action does not compel the board to follow through the loan. It, with a public hearing also held this morning, are necessary steps the board must follow to borrow the money.
Six percent of Marion County's voters approved the issuance of over $5 million in general obligation bonds in 2005. Proceeds were used to build the new law enforcement center, east of Knoxville near Hormel. The center, including a new jail, was opened in 2006. The sheriff's office and jail were formerly housed in the courthouse, but the space available in the courthouse no longer met jail standards or the needs of the sheriff's office.
The $3.835 million will come due in 2013. The board has previously discussed refinancing the bonds to save money.
Supervisor Craig Agan told the supervisors he was contacted by two local banks who want to be involved in the refinancing process. Agan indicated that he would like to bank locally, but wants to get the best rate possible.
"My only concern is, I don't want the County to position itself and miss out on the low interest rate," Board Chairman Sam Nichols said. Public Financial Management, in the resolution, is allowed to prepare an official statement regarding the bonds. Auditor Jake Grandia indicated that even if local banks are used, bond counsel and a financial advisor are necessary to set up the bonds.
The board also received and filed the 2011 Marion County Pioneer Cemetery Commission report. The next regular Marion County Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 23, at 8:30 a.m. in the courthouse.