County board sets public hearing for radio bonds


LEE COUNTY – A $6.2 million revenue bond to pay for a countywide upgrade in radio communication systems was moved to a public hearing next week.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors will hold the public hearing at the beginning of next week’s meeting to garner public reaction to the new tax, which will result in an overhaul of all first-responder radio systems in the county.

The levy itself is countywide and could be up to a 20-year bond depending on rates and bids on the bond.

The total estimated cost of the project is $6.3 million, but the Public Safety Answering Point, gave the county’s E911 board $600,000 to offset some of the costs, which resulted in a preliminary ask of $5.7 million from taxpayers.

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However, engineering costs on Phase 3 of the project, which is the next phase, was rolled into the bond request resulting in the $6.2 million figure.

Since the work is part of emergency services in the county, it does not have to go in front of voters. Board Chairman Ron Fedler has previously stated that he wanted voters to make the decision, but has since stepped back from that and put the item on for a public hearing.

Voters can still petition to have a special election to approve the spend, but would have to garner signatures and present the petition to the board within two weeks after publishing the intent to issue the bonds.

In an unrelated matter, Supervisor Matt Pflug said the Lee County Board of Health issued new directives Tuesday morning around specific additional safety measures to help curtail the surging COVID-19 numbers in the county.

“The board is asking that we acknowledge their statement and a lot does mirror Gov. Reynolds statements from (Monday), with the numbers going up. Our positivity rate is 22% and it’s time to get serious here,” Pflug said.

“This thing is out of control – just crazy out of control.”

Pflug asked Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber if law enforcement was going to start issuing citations.

Weber said it’s his position that educating people on wearing masks is still the best option, but the governor did issue more of a mandate.

“We’ll do a lot of education with folks and if we see them, we’ll tell them to go ahead and get a mask on,” Weber said.

Governor Kim Reynolds said Monday night that there aren’t enough sheriff’s in Iowa’s counties to enforce the mandates, so it’s up to Iowans to do the right thing.

In other action, the board:

• approved a recount of the 2nd Congressional District votes in Lee County. Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said the training process was underway for the recount, but the board just needed to approve the recount. Fraise said the margin of Mariannette Miller-Meeks win over Rita Hart was 40 votes statewide.
• approved a temporary easement with the City of Fort Madison for the future reconstruction of Hwy. 61 from 6th to 10th streets.
• heard from Budget Director Cindy Renstrom that the state had issued the county an additional $291,000 in sales tax revenue as part of the semi-annual reconciliation of sales tax formulas.

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