County may sign on to workforce liability agreement

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – A Lee County Supervisor has asked the county to sign on to a Local Workforce Development Area agreement to share responsibilities under the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

At Tuesday’s Lee County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Rick Larkin, the county’s liaison to the board, asked the board to have the agreement put on the next agenda.

More of a formality than anything, but agreement places responsibility for the regional workforce group equally among Des Moines, Lee, Henry and Louisa counties.

The WOIA is a federal law that replaced the previous Workforce Investment Act of 1998 in 2014 under President Barack Obama, as the primary federal workforce development legislation to bring about increased coordination among federal workforce development and related programs.

Larkin said the group has been undergoing some structural changes as the federal and state landscape has changed, and is basically starting from scratch.

He said under the agreement the four counties would share in responsibility for misspent or unrecoverable funds.

“We’re starting from scratch and going back and changing the structure of the board. The CEOS, which are the supervisors, are running this and watching over everything,” Larkin said.

The group is comprised of supervisor liaisons from each of the four county boards.

“This has all changed and their are a number of things we need to do and this is the first thing, which is CEO liability,” Larkin said.

Lee County Supervisor Chairman Ron Fedler said he would entertain the item on the next agenda. He also said Larkin is the best supervisor to serve on the board since he’s already been a part of it.

“This is a convoluted job description of what we’re going to do together,” he said.

“We’re meeting every Monday on this and I would like to have the board to approve me to sign this to go into the state. I’m sure they will have some changes to make and we may even have some changes before it goes in.”

Larkin said the board had never experienced any misspent funds or embezzlement or anything of that nature. But he said they are looking at bringing a financial agent on board to keep everything inline.

“We’re hoping (Southeast Iowa) Regional Planning can do it. We have a lot of faith in them being able to be that agent and look over everything,” Larkin said.

Larkin also said the counties rotate yearly who is the chair of the group, and without this agreement in place, the county that is in charge would be solely responsible for any loss of funds.

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