The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 8, 2014

Questions surface about county satellite office costs

CLINTON — The cold weather postponed Clinton County’s public hearing on its 2014 satellite offices plan from Monday night. Even so, the Supervisors, Sheriff’s Department and Building and Maintenance Director all indicated there’s plenty to talk about.

Fearing for the safety of the public, supervisors Jill Davisson, Brian Schmidt and John Staszewski voted unanimously to move Monday night’s 6 p.m. meeting in DeWitt to Thursday. Country roads, they argued, would be too difficult to navigate, and the public deserved proper accessibility to have its voice heard.

“We want the people to have an opportunity to speak,” Davisson said. “We don’t want to put anybody at risk, and 50 below (zero) is at risk.”

Moments after they ruled to postpone, the supervisors opened a scheduled morning public hearing regarding the same matter.

The county has already completed Phase I and is currently constructing Phase II of its proposed satellite office plan, in which purchased office space was updated and renovated. The new, “more centralized” location is aimed to provide greater accessibility for multiple departments.

Now, Phase III — plans for a six-car garage and a sustainable concrete parking lot — is on the table. And opponents of those plans, said Davisson, have questioned if the estimated $700,000 cost from the county budget is an acceptable use of those funds.

“We’ve taken a piece of property in DeWitt and made it a viable property again,” she said. “There’s a price tag involved in all of this. And it’s important for the taxpayers who are paying the bill to have an opportunity to reflect on the costs.”

Corey Johnson, Clinton County building and maintenance director, spelled out the dollar amounts where they stand today. Combining the costs of the original building purchase, Phase I and Phase II, Clinton County will spend $1.332 million, Johnson said. Impending sales of both the old sheriff’s office and DeWitt annex combined with a $36,500 generator grant will offset some of those costs.

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