BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – County officials hedged a bit on making a formal commitment to the Fort Madison Marina project Monday morning.
At the regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld was on the agenda looking to secure a $250,000 contribution from the county, a commitment that could help secure another larger, private commitment.
“That is a number that we’ve talked about from day one,” Mohrfeld said. “That is also a number that the person who has stepped up and sees an investment that probably could parlay some Vision Iowa money if we’re successful with it.”
Mohrfeld said the Southeast Iowa Aquatic Restoration group, formed to facilitate the new marina project, is about $1.2 million short of fully funding the project. The project price tag when fully complete and operational could get close to $14 million.
But at the group’s public campaign kickoff three months ago, the cost was estimated at closer to $10 million to get the marina functional. Mohrfeld said at that time the group was about $1.8 million off that goal, which would show $600,000 has been committed since that time.
Lee County Board Chairman Matt Pflug told Mohrfeld he loves the project, but the county has a top priority of getting a health department constructed. Pflug said he spoke with County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom Monday morning about the county’s financial position.
“A priority of ours is the health department. We have to make that happen,” Pflug said.
“I was talking to Cindy this morning on where our fund balance is and we’re now down below $3 million. I asked her where the critical stage is and $3 million is where we came out as a benchmark and we have to be mindful of that.”
Mohrfeld said the commitment could be spread over an amount of time. The marina group did apply for the money through the county’s America Rescue Plan allotment of $6.5 million.
ARPA chairman Garry Seyb said the priorities of the committee has coalesced around the Health Department.
“We have to center around what the building is going to cost us once we settle on that. But your $250,000 request is still there and valid in my mind if we can find the funding for the health department,” Seyb said.
Pflug said grants are unknown and the county has to focus on what they have in hand now as far as the health department.
Supervisor Rick Larkin said he supports the marina project and said the project will have an impact countywide and should be supported in some fashion by the county if they can find the money.
“My opinion on this is we should do everything we can to help fund this because this will really enhance southeast Iowa tourism, the number of people that come in, and the number of boats that will be here. If something like this is happening, I think the county should be a part of it,” Larkin said.
Seyb asked to table the funding discussion until the county can get a clearer picture on the funding streams for the health department, and financial condition of the county.
In other action, the county board:
• approved quotes from crack and joint sealing for 280th Avenue and X32.
• approved road rock contracts from Geode and Donnellson quarries.
• approved spending $275,000 in ARPA funds on computer IT enhancements.
• approved the hiring of a part-time staffer for the county Veteran’s Affairs office.