BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – The Lee County Board of Supervisors took one more step to increase the minimum wage in Lee County on Tuesday morning.
The board passed 4-1, the second reading of an ordinance pushing the minimum wage to $8.20 effective May 1. The ordinance still requires one more reading and the supervisors will be meeting next Tuesday at the Newberry Center in Fort Madison, 728 Avenue G at 9 a.m. and then again at the Heritage Senior Center at 508 Main Street at 1 p.m. where the final reading will take place.
To date no one has attended the meeting in opposition to the move.
Supervisor Ron Fedler, again, cast the lone dissenting vote saying his constituency on the north side of Lee County has told him they are against increasing the wage. However, Fedler said Tuesday that he’s not against the wage as a whole.
“The minimum wage is too minimum…it’s too low,” Fedler said. “The objection I have is as a county we can’t force them to participate and if they choose to opt out they can. I just see a lot of issues with this, and I’ve said this should be a state issue because they can mandate everyone participates. At the forum last week they said this should be a state issue then we won’t have squabbles between the counties and the cities.”
Supervisor Matt Pflug spoke emphatically about the bump.
“People don’t know what’s going on up there (in Des Moines). Maybe we need to take the responsibility here at home because if you rely on those folks, it’s gonna be a long wait,” Pflug said.
“$8.20 per hour…that’s not a livable wage. But we’re moving in the right direction. To me… it’s a very easy decision for me. I don’t care what wage you’re making you see people struggling every day and that’s wrong. That should not be happening in Lee County,” Pflug said. “Unfortunately you have those folks out there, and I don’t care what you say, you see those people out there suffering and it’s wrong.”
Supervisor Gary Folluo said elections will be on the minds of those serving in the cities.
“I don’t worry about cities opting out of this, because you’ve heard the saying ‘elections have consequences’ and so if someone wants to opt out of this they are letting their people know what they think of them,” Supervisor Gary Folluo said.
Fedler said he had to listen to the people who are talking to him, just as Pflug had a responsibility to his constituents. Pflug quickly responded this issue is about the people of Lee County,
“If I think something’s right, I’m going to step out and do what’s right,” Pflug said. “I don’t care if that means I don’t get elected so be it, but if you’re talking about people in Lee County struggling, that’s just dead wrong,” Pflug said looking at Fedler.
Supervisor Don Hunold wanted to remind everyone that the board was talking about a minimum wage, not a living wage.
“We are not talking about a living wage here. We’re talking about a minimum wage. If you want to talk a living wage we sure aren’t talking about $8/hour.
Mike Bennett, who has been a part of the Raise the Wage committee, said according to state indexes, a living wage would be about $16.75/hour.
In an unrelated matter, during the board’s workshop session, the board directed County Auditor Denise Fraise to have County Attorney Ross Braden draw up a letter to Dakota Access Pipeline to seek reimbursement for more than $4,000 in overtime charges the Lee County Sheriff’s Department incurred providing security to the pipeline as it was being constructed and keeping protesters off the property.
Folluo said the agreement with the pipeline company was that the expenses would be neutral and the county shouldn’t be out any money when the pipeline requested security.
In other action, the board,
• tabled action on a new company to provide body and vehicle cameras for the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Stacy Weber said after investigating the issue further, another company has been located that can provide additional service such as geomapping, links to video footage which would eliminate the need for the department to burn disks and other technological advantages over the company originally recommended. The board will revisit the issue when a separate recommendation and public hearing can be held.