Seven Hills Park locale for 300-foot comm tower approved by FAA

By Rick Morain
Jefferson Herald

A new, 300-foot emergency communications tower has found a future home.

Doug Hawn updated the Greene County board of supervisors Feb. 23 on the project for which the county recently bonded $3.8 million. The tower will be located near Seven Hills Park southwest of Jefferson, just off the road and ahead of the park gates.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the location for a 300-foot tower. The communications consulting firm RFCC will distribute a request for proposal to choose a construction company. The county is trying to obtain a used building for the site to save on costs. The $3.7 million price tag includes equipment and structure, generator, and enough mobile radios to complete the needs of fire departments, ambulance services, and conservation in the county.
Hawn estimated that most of the project will be completed by midsummer.


The board also determined the maximum property tax dollars and property levy rates to be presented at upcoming public hearings on the county’s fiscal year 2023-24 budget during the Feb. 27 meeting.
The maximum dollar amount for general services property tax is proposed at $5,010,033, an increase of $110,018 above the current year’s figure of $4,900,015, a boost of 2.25 percent. The general services levy rate would be $6.02 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation on all taxable property in the county, a boost of 13 cents over the current rate of $5.89.

Maximum property tax dollars for rural services in the county would be an additional $2,018,666, an increase of $114,993 above the current year’s figure of $1,903,673, a boost of 6.04 percent. The rural services levy rate would be $3.15 per thousand on rural property, a boost of 18 cents above the current rate of $2.97.

The public hearing for the maximum property tax dollars for 2023-24 will take place at the board’s regular meeting Monday morning, March 13.
Because the Iowa Legislature had to correct the property valuation rollbacks for the 2023-24 budget, it has extended the deadline to certify the county budget to April 30 instead of March 31. The corrected valuation rollback figure is 54.65 percent, down from the erroneous original figure of 56.49 percent.

• On other matters, county engineer Wade Weiss provided the board with an estimate of $22,460 for updating audio equipment and speakers around the courthouse square. The board is uncertain whether the city of Jefferson will share equally in the project’s cost.
• Weiss also reported that Carroll Glass is preparing a quote to replace the Mahanay Tower front door to include better accessibility.
• Engineer Weiss reviewed the county’s secondary roads’ five properties with farm leases, four of which are at county gravel pit locations. The properties total about 150 acres. Weiss shared maps of the five properties.
• The board set public hearings for the board meeting of Monday, March 13, on the sale of three small land properties owned by the county, two of them in Paton and one in Jefferson. The Paton properties, which are adjoining, are proposed for sale to the city of Paton for $600. The Jefferson property is proposed for sale to Joe and Janet Cummings for $500.
County Treasurer Katlynn Mechaelsen had reviewed the properties with the board.
• Chuck Wenthold reported that the Iowa Utilities Board has scheduled a technical conference for March 15 to review a procedural schedule for Summit Carbon Solutions, the organization that proposes to build a network of pipelines to carry liquid carbon dioxide from ethanol plants to a deep underground storage basin in North Dakota. One of the pipelines is scheduled through northeast Greene County.


At the Feb. 23 supervisor meeting, the board reviewed a first draft of the proposed property tax levies for the county’s 2023-24 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The proposal took a first look at tax levy rates and dollars generated for both general and rural services.
County Auditor Jane Heun explained that because the Iowa Legislature was in the process of correcting some erroneous numbers in property valuations across the state, numbers for the final property tax notice were not available at the Feb. 23 meeting.
Heun explained that the boosts in both sectors are due to increases for salaries and wages, related salary benefits, higher costs for good and services purchased due to inflation, and a desire to maintain sufficient reserves. In addition, insurance coverage increases also factor into the general services boosts.

The maximum dollar increases for both general services and rural services are projected to be raised more than two percent from the current year, and therefore at least four of the five supervisors must vote to approve the budget. If the dollar increases would turn out to be less than two percent, then approval is required from only three of the five supervisors.


Hawn presented two separate requests for up to $5,000 each in Louis Dreyfus funds for the coming fiscal year, and the supervisors approved both. The first was for the Scranton Alumni Association’s project to install a generator and rewire the entrance at Scranton’s community center.

Hawn said that citizens need a place to gather during any Scranton extended power outage. Other money has been raised by the association through events and products, through a grant, and from individuals. At least one other grant is also being sought.
The second project was on behalf of the Greene County Fair Association to improve the west approach to the building formerly used as a bus barn on the fairgrounds. The current white rock approach can be unstable, resulting in an unsafe entryway for the semi and tanker and that are housed there. The new approach would also improve access for handicapped persons and baby strollers.


County Attorney Thomas Laehn reported that his office has 83 pending cases in criminal court, with a significant portion related to alleged jackpot fraud by individuals at the casino.
He also expressed concern about a provision contained in House Study Bill 126 in the legislature, which would give the Iowa attorney general the authority to intervene and take over any county case, even it the county attorney did not request it. Laehn said that provision, if adopted, would undermine local control over justice in counties, by putting county attorneys under the supervision of the attorney general rather than local voters.
Supervisor Dawn Rudolph was absent from both board meetings.

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