BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – County residents will be allowed back into county offices starting Monday, but by appointment only.
And you have to wear a mask.
At the regular Lee County Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday, the board voted 5-0 to reopen county buildings June 15, but only with an appointment. Doors will remain locked and those with appointments will be allowed in if wearing a face covering.
Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said all department heads had agreed that it was time to try the soft opening as state officials have reopened most sectors of the state economy on a limited basis.
“We’re not going to just open the doors to let people flood in,” Fraise said. “This will be by appointment only. I would think they may even appreciate that rather than sitting here for two hours.”
County Treasurer Chris Spann said the Iowa Department of Transportation is suggesting that all counties conduct driver’s license business by appointment from now on.
Supervisor Matt Pflug asked how long the county should run by appointment only.
Fraise said it was difficult to predict and left the conversation open ended.
“I have no idea. Who knows. Who knows how long this COVID-19 will be around.”
In an unrelated issue, supervisors voted 5-0 to continue discussing taking over countywide ambulance service, while awaiting approval from Lee County EMS Ambulance on a one-year proposed contract.
The county is offering $900,000 for a year-long extension of the service with Lee County EMS, but the contract contains language that allows the county to purchase the service from the company and make it public owned.
Supervisor Chairman Ron Fedler said both the county and the ambulance service would provide independent appraisers to assess the value of Lee County EMS equipment and facilities in the event the county purchased that equipment as part of the take over. But he said there was no obligation that would require the county to purchase company equipment.
Fraise, County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom, Supervisor Rick Larkin, Fedler, and Lee County Attorney Ross Braden met with Lee County Ambulance Director Bill Young and presented the proposed extension more than a week ago.
Fedler said input was also received from Dr. Phillip Caropreso of Keokuk, and Bryor McMillen, a county volunteer firefighter and reserve sheriff’s deputy.
“I still haven’t heard back from the ambulance service on the proposed contract,” Fedler said. “I’ve been talking with Ross and Denise, and I don’t want to wait til the end of the month to have that contract done for the next fiscal year.”
The new contract would take effect July 1.
Fedler said it would take six to nine months to get everything in order and he didn’t want the county to find itself in the same situation it has this year.
Larkin said it was important for all the supervisors to be on the same page.
“We wanted to proceed with having a public-owned ambulance service… that’s why we’re bringing it forward right now,” he said.
In other action, the board:
• voted 5-0, to approved hiring Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission to handle county floodplain administration at a cost of $13,000 per year for the first year.
• voted 5-0 to approve a contract for the repair of two boilers in the South Lee County Courthouse.
• voted 5-0, to approve new confidentiality and segregation of duties policies.
• voted 5-0 to accept the canvass of the June 2 primary election results.