The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 5, 2013

Hart discusses county issues

CLINTON — The Clinton County Board of Supervisors wished newly appointed Iowa State Sen. Rita Hart good luck with her upcoming session.

Hart sat down with the board Wednesday to discuss issues concerning the county. Hart will be sworn in on Jan. 14. She informed the board that she will be serving on the agriculture committee, education committee, local government committee,  economic development committee and veterans affairs committee.

“I’m excited about those things and I know have a lot to learn on those things,” Hart said.

Hart is especially happy to be on the education committee. She added that is where her background and her passion are.

Representatives from area organizations and county department heads spoke with Hart, presenting issues they felt deserved discussion. One of the top discussions was mental health redesign.

Executive Director of Bridgeview Marcia Christiansen attended the meeting to highlight just how important mental health funds are. She is worried that Bridgeview will not receive any more funds and will eventually be unable to continue services.

She asked that Hart consider what will happen to mental health clients in Clinton County if Bridgeview closes. Christiansen attended a Dec. 17 meeting and shared these same concern with legislators Steve Olson and Mary Wolfe.

The supervisors emphasized how the redesign could impact the county. Clinton County was not chosen to receive transition funds. Another worry is the idea of pooling funds with the other counties within their region. Supervisor Jill Davisson told Hart that counties do not want to pool their funds.

“It’s something of course that I’ve been hearing about a lot and still have a lot to learn on it,” Hart said. “But I definitely think that needs to be a priority.”

County Engineer Todd Kinney spoke to Hart about increasing the gas tax. He said that by increasing it by 10 cents, the county would see $630,000. Kinney pointed out that the gas tax has not been raised since 1989.

“It could solve a lot of problems in the future,” said Kinney.

Hart said that they obviously want the safe roads and safe bridges that the tax can bring. However, she said that people do not want to pay more in any tax.

“We need to be very practical about that,” Hart said

Davisson was happy to hear that Hart is on the veterans affairs committee. Davisson added that whatever the state has to tax her to help veterans, she is fine with.

“There isn’t probably a group of people that we owe more to,” Davisson said. “We should almost be ashamed of how we take care of our veterans in some places.”

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