ORAL HEALTH SCREENINGS
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors heard information about the Child Adolescent Oral Health fund for the next fiscal year. Kayla Mayer of Cherokee County Public Health told the Supervisors that they have taken over administration of the Oral Health Fund , as Mid-Sioux Opportunity is no longer doing so. Cherokee County is administering the program through Upper Des Moines Opportunity. The program serves Medicaid enrolled children in Plymouth County. Services include oral health screenings and sealants, developmental screenings for disabilities, and lead screenings. Mayer says they are seeking 10-thousand dollars from each of the ten counties they service, in order to administer the program. These funds will be used within the county. The Supervisors will act on the request as part of their budget deliberations.
A public hearing has been set for March 21st, at which time the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will consider approval of their new budget, and to set tax revenues.
Four more Plymouth County bridges will be replaced by concrete box culverts. The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved plans for this work on 300th St in Lincoln Township, east of Hinton; another east of the intersection of C12 and Iowa Highway 60 in Fredonia Township; on 200th St in Washington Township, west of Le Mars; and on Impala Ave. southwest of Merrill in Plymouth Township.
Two of the old bridges are of steel beam construction, two are wooden beam bridges. This is part of an ongoing program to replace old Plymouth County bridges with culverts. Plymouth County has one of the highest concentrations of bridges on secondary roads of any county in Iowa.
Installation of new equipment at the Well’s South Ice Cream Plant in Le Mars will cause streets in that area to be shut down Saturday. There’s a new crane rail that will be installed in the freezer. It requires the installation crew to pull it across 18th St SW in order to line it up for installation. Le Mars Street Department has approved the closure of part of 18th St SW between 6th Ave SW and 12th Ave SW this Saturday, February 18th, from 7-30 am to 1 pm. Detour signs will be posted.
PROPERTY TAX CUTS
Republicans in the legislature are proposing a variety of ideas to simplify and reduce property taxes. Republican Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the panel that drafts tax policy.
Dawson has introduced a bill that would double a property tax credit homeowners may claim for the house they occupy.
Increasing those property tax credits reduces revenue for local governments, so Dawson also is proposing a change in the one percent local option sales taxes being collected around the state.
It would become a statewide tax and his bill then would send one-and-a-quarter percent of all state sales tax revenue to cities and counties.
Dawson has another bill that gradually consolides property tax levies that fund local government operations. He says the goal is to get rid of most special levies. Then all city and county governments would operate under the general levy rate on property tax assessments set in 1975. However,
Dawson says there would be some exceptions, plus a yearly growth rate would be allowed to account for inflation.
A senate subcommittee reviewed part of Dawson’s property tax relief plans. House Republicans have proposed different ways to reduce property taxes.
Governor Kim Reynolds is asking legislators to pass a bill that would forbid state agencies or pension funds from doing business with investment firms that boycott gun makers or the fossil fuel industry. Molly Severn is one of the governor’s aides. She says some prominent investment firms are prioritizing political agendas and woke ideology above their client’s returns — using what’s called Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG practices. A spokesman for the state universities as well as managers of the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System and a pension for fund peace officers say they have not invested in companies that are targeted by the governor’s bill. Similar bills are being considered in other states as Republicans criticize firms making investment decisions based on the way a business approaches issues like climate change.
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors reached agreement with the Secondary Road Bargaining Unit. This agreement provides a 7 percent increase in the salary schedule for 2023-24. Effective July 1, individual salaries for the bargaining unit will range from $24.13 to $36.01 per hour. Four members of the department, who are not members of the bargaining unit, will receive the same salary increase. One of the four, County Engineer Tom Rohe, will receive a 6.5% salary increase, plus and additional 40 cents per hour.
LE MARS SCHOOL BUILDINGS
The Le Mars Community School Board of Education have agreed to make a facilities study of the district’s elementary buildings. The board toured the three schools, and shared thier impressions Monday. The general impressions of the board were that two of the schools, Clark and Franklin, are in great structural shape, but no longer fit the needs of a modern school building. By consensus, the board directed Superintendent Dr. Steven Webner to consider firms who can carry out the facilities study.
Voters in the West Sioux School District will vote next month on a plan to authorize to issuance of up to 14.9 million dollars in General Obligation Bonds to build classrooms, and make improvements at elementary buildings in Ireton and Hawarden. Transitional Kindergarten through first grade is at Ireton Elementary and grades 2 through 5 are at Hawarden More classrooms would be added at both schools if the bond issue passes. A year ago, a similar bond issue proposal failed, as it missed the required 60% majority by 3 percentage points. Polls are open March 7 from 7 am to 8 pm.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley attended a briefing Tuesday as military and intelligence officials update members of Congress about the recent rash of unidentified flying objects being shot down by American warplanes. Government officials say a Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the South Carolina coast ten days ago, after it overflew much of the U-S. Three more objects have been shot down in the past four days, two near Alaska and a third over Lake Huron. Grassley says we’re all in the dark and deserve answers.
Officials are saying very little about the three latest U-F-Os and it’s unclear if they’re also intelligence-gathering platforms like the first Chinese balloon. Grassley questions how many other devices have been overhead that we’ve missed — or that we weren’t told about.
Chinese officials have issued statements saying the first object was a weather balloon that veered off course, but U-S officials say they’ve recovered most of the craft’s antenna array which they say was certainly used for surveillance.
PIPELINE ECONOMIC STUDY
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has released an economic study that says using carbon dioxide pipelines at ethanol plants will increase profits and keep most of the industry from leaving the state. Dave Miller of Decision Innovation Solutions wrote the report which says taking advantage of federal tax credits for reducing carbon in ethanol would double operating margins. Miller says without carbon sequestration, the ethanol production in Iowa would move out to another state who would take advantage of the tax credits. He says Iowa could lose 75 percent of its ethanol plants in four years. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association president, Monte Shaw, says Iowa farmers could still sell their corn to ethanol plants but would have to pay to ship it — and that would lead to about ten billion dollars in lost revenues. Miller says pipelines are the best way to ship the carbon dioxide to keep the costs down and allow the plants to expand.