By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
City officials got the chance to address pressing issues with state legislators on Clinton County Day. City finance issues, commercial property tax, gas tax and the pension fund remain top issues for the city of Camanche.
“It is all about getting our points across and giving them a chance to offer feedback,” City Administrator Tom Roth said.
Roth, Mayor Ken Fahlbeck, City Engineer Dan Solchenberger and Councilman Greg Nelson made the trip to represent not only the community, but regional efforts as well. Major discussions included the railport, mental health and domestic abuse funding.
Pension was a major concern as the city recently discussed pension issues at a budget session. Currently Roth is looking into pricing for workers compensation and how it overlaps with the pension plan.
“The pension plan is a financial burden to taxpayers,” Fahlbeck said. “It’s just not right.”
Clinton County leaders mainly focused on five major issues during their trip: economic development, transportation, education, the human impact of the state regionalizing human services and finally healthcare.
Camanche School District Superintendent Tom Parker was unable to attend the trip, but presented his position paper through a book of issues pushed forward by Clinton County officials. Parker focused on four main concerns: education reform, property tax relief, school finances and unfunded mandates.
Funding tied nearly all the issues together. He stated support of education reform to increase the learning and achievement of students. Meeting the needs and challenges of school finances and unfunded mandates creates a financial burden for the community, according to Parker. Although he could not attend, Parker stressed the significance of the trip.
“I really believe that pulling together as a community and getting to meet with state legislators,” Parker said. “It’s a powerful experience and really enhances everything that we do.”
While the trip doesn’t offer local officials anything tangible, this annual trip organized by the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce offers a crucial communication tool.
“It is important to gain a relationship with state legislator,” Fahlbeck said. “It’s always worth it to get answers straight up.”