March 03, 2021

Wind turbine abeyance continued

The Union County Board of Supervisors voted 2 to 1 to continue its wind turbine abeyance until the Southern Hills wind turbine project is completed.

In July, the board voted to suspend approval of any new wind turbine projects until the current one is finished. The abeyance was set to expire on Jan. 1.

During the board’s weekly meeting Monday at the Union County Courthouse, supervisors Dennis Brown and Rick Friday voted to approve the extension saying the the abeyance was designed to allow the supervisors to tour the project area after it was completed.

“We’re not ready yet, it may need two, three months ‘til they’re all done and we go out and look at it,” Brown said.

Ron Riley explained his dissenting vote.

“When this all started several years ago, I think everyone knew it was my goal to try to strike a balance between the county residents and forming a wind project,” Riley said. “... I felt like we worked hard to create the ordinance that would protect the land owners and other Union County citizens and the county itself. .... We tried to protect our county assets and not restrict roads or deny people an opportunity through ordinances, not an abeyance. "

Riley continued by saying he is not against reexamining the ordinance, but he does not feel an abeyance is the proper way to deal with the issue.

“This doesn’t mean I will still won’t continue to gather information, learn about the effects of turbines in Union County and look at our ordinances,” he said. “I just felt like an abeyance is a term we don’t use for any other place or any other permits that we do.”

See the full story of the board’s decision in July online in the Creston News Advertiser at https://tinyurl.com/windabeyance.

Budget amendment

An amendment to the county budget totaling $110,151 passed unanimously after a public hearing where no members of the public commented or submitted written comments.

Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell explained the details and told the supervisors the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements and the CARES Act grant will more than cover the amount needed from the fund balance.

“We have it in the reserve, we just need to put it on the expenditure side,” she said.

‘Even with all the unusual activity we’ve had because of COVID, we’re still on ... budget,” Brown asked.

“Everybody is doing really good and with the money coming in for that ... (without the CARES Act) that money would be coming out of the fund balance,” Hysell answered.

The bulk of the $531,260 in expenditures was $400,000 in new equipment purchased by the Secondary Roads Department. This amount was offset by $400,000 in FEMA reimbursements. According to Hysell, the amount of FEMA money rose to around $500,000 after the budget amendment was printed. The new funds will be accounted for in a future amendment.

The amendment also includes $66,760 in expenditures for election COVID-19 supplies and the scanning of the recorder’s office books and auditor’s transfer books and plat maps to enable residents to access those resources online. A $175,000 grant from the CARES Act will cover this portion of the amendment once the funds have been received. A portion of that grant was received after the amendment was printed, $75,000 more is expected.

Hysell said not only will this make the information accessible without patrons needing to come into the courthouse, it will make it easier to access because researchers can simply enter a name or parcel and it will bring up both the auditor’s information and the recorder’s.

A court ordered medical bill for an indigent person —one who “cannot provide the necessities of life for himself/herself” according Law.com — added more than $40,000 of the $64,500 physical health and social services line item to the amendment.

The Union County Board of Supervisors meets weekly 9 a.m. Monday at the Union County Courthouse, 300 N. Pine St. The supervisors are still meeting in person at this time, but the public is encouraged to submit comments for public forum by mail, email or telephone to help limit the gathering to 10 participants.

REGINA SMITH

Reporter, columnist, teacher, children's book author, book store owner - Regina Smith has a wide range of experience in writing and education. She combines those interests and experiences to cover city and county government and human interest stories as well as writing a biweekly column in her home town of Creston, Iowa.