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Supervisors: More options surface in DHS relocation discussion

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 1:39 p.m. CDT

More options regarding where Department of Human Services (DHS) will move surfaced during a Union County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday.

Previously, county supervisors were only investigating one option, which was to move DHS from their current location inside the Union County Courthouse to the former Iowa State Extension building.

Darren Thompson, executive officer for DHS in this area, said last week the DHS move is necessary as DHS currently has the opportunity to hire two more employees in Union County, but cannot because they do not have enough space at their current location.

Additionally, Thompson said DHS staff does not currently have an adequate conference/meeting room for employees and families to meet.

More options?

The initial option to move DHS to the former Iowa State Extension building is expected to cost Union County about $2,000 in rent, utilities and insurance per month.

On top of that, remodeling costs projected at $50,000 would cost the county anywhere from $17,000 to $21,000 after they are reimbursed by surrounding counties and by the state.

Monday, supervisor Dennis Brown presented a new option he and Union County's Building and Grounds Director Paul Boden had discussed last week.

Their option is to keep DHS at the Union County Courthouse — a building the county already owns — by moving the assessor's office upstairs to the supervisor's board room. DHS would then acquire the office space left in the assessor's office.

And, the board of supervisor's would then move from their current location to the yellow brick building north of the Union County Law Enforcement Center where a portion of DHS staff currently resides.

Brown and Boden's option seemed to gain the most support from other board members Monday.

"It's a lot better option than writing a check out to someone else every month," said supervisor Lois Monday. "I'm all for remodeling something we already own. That would be to our advantage."

Brown said, moving forward, he would communicate with the assessor's office and veteran's affairs about the possible move, "get hard numbers" regarding how much the reorganization and remodeling would be for the move and speak with DHS on whether the option would give them enough space and satisfy state regulations.

A second option presented Monday was remodeling the current yellow brick and adding on a new addition to accommodate DHS. Jansen agreed to find the "hard numbers" for that project.

A third option was to build a brand new building on the lot where the old conservation house was recently demolished. Ron Riley agreed to get the numbers on that project.

A fourth option was to rent a 3,500 square-foot space inside the Nurses on Call building, located on Highway 34. The landlord at that building agreed to complete all the remodeling needed for the project and pay for utilities. However, rent was pricey at about $1 per square foot or about $3,500 per month. Monday agreed to get the hard numbers on that option.

"I know it's time consuming, but we have to keep all these options open," said supervisor Bob Jansen. "I would lean heavier to (renovating) something we already own. Renting is a never-ending well. We all know that from when we began as kids. We rented until we could find something, then we got the hell out of there."

The board agreed to get the information necessary and reconvene at a future board meeting to go over the numbers and eventually make a decision.

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Juvenile services doesn't want to move?

In the first option, whereby DHS moves to the former Iowa State Extension office, juvenile services was expected to move with DHS to collaborate services and the building be a "one-stop shop for families."

However, Monday told the board, she had conversations with juvenile services staff last week and they stated they are satisfied with where they are located right now, they pay low rent and do not want to move.

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Secondary roads funding

Steve Akes, county engineer, reported good news Monday regarding secondary roads funding. Akes recently received secondary roads funding projections for 2014 and Union County will receive an increase in state road-use tax of 4.5 percent and 2.1- percent increase for farm-to-market funding.

Still, Union County is one of the least-funded counties in Iowa with only seven other counties receiving less state road-use tax funding than Union County.

Akes said the reason Union County receives minimal funding in comparison is because the money is allocated based on formula weighted toward vehicles miles traveled. Under that formula, Union County is at a disadvantage because we only have less miles with 12 townships compared to most other counties who have 16 townships.

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