May 15, 2021

Local bids win out for sheriffs department

Union County Sheriff Mark Shepherd asked the board of supervisors to approve the lowest bid for purchasing a new patrol vehicle for the sheriff’s office.

Bids of $33,565 for a Dodge Durango from M&M Motors and $36,550 for a Ford Explorer from Creston Automotive were received. Stalker Chevrolet was unable to submit a bid due to ongoing production delays.

Shepherd said he prefers to stick with the same model of vehicle already being used, the Durango, because it enables the department to transfer equipment from one vehicle to another and will save money in the long run.

A bid of $10,982 from Big Boyz Toys in Creston for outfitting the vehicle was approximately $500 higher than the lowest bid of $10,420 from Iowa Emergency Vehicle in Bondurant, however, the cost savings in not needing to transport the vehicle for the initial install and future maintenance would outweigh the difference in cost, Shepherd said, adding it would take two trips with two deputies to take the vehicle to Bondurant each time it needed adjustment.

“I totally 100% agree with that, keeping it local,” supervisor chair Ron Riley said.

“We are fortunate to have them,” Supervisor Rick Friday said. “If we don’t support them, we won’t have them.”

Shepherd said the Big Boyz Toys bid may be lowered due to a possible typographical error.

Purchasing a used light bar from the Creston Police Department and the radio from Union County Emergency Management saves approximately $4,000 Shepherd said.

The supervisors approved both bids recommended by Shepherd.

A USDA grant of $13,000 will help pay for purchasing the vehicle. Shepherd said with the $30,000 line item in the budget this would nearly cover the cost of buying and outfitting the vehicle.

Riley suggested the difference in the budget and the actual cost may be due to the planned trade-in value. Shepherd said the approximately $1,000 overrun was worth it to have a spare vehicle.

Shepherd plans to keep the vehicle that is being moved out of the regular fleet to use as a backup although it has over 110,00 miles. He said over the winter there were times when breakdowns and weather conditions left the department short a vehicle. In addition, when a vehicle needs maintenance, there is no spare for the deputies to use.

Secondary roads

Secondary roads superintendent Al Hysell has developed a work load plan to tackle items from the backlog of bridge and culvert repairs and replacements and other road work.

“Some of that may not happen depending on the weather,” Hysell said.

Hysell will be placing an ad to hire at least one new foreman. He said if he gets two good candidates he may hire both of them.

Friday said it would be good if a new hire had excavation experience.

Hysell and the supervisors discussed changing the pay scale at secondary roads to reflect the physical labor involved in some jobs versus jobs that mainly require driving a vehicle. Friday suggested this may help Hysell encourage workers to choose the more physical assignments.

The board also discussed plans to encourage workers to use their comp time as many of the employees are at the maximum of 60 hours due to extra hours moving snow. Hysell asked for the authority to make the employees take the time off.

“They’ll burn up their vacation before they use their comp time,” Hysell said. “I need a mechanism in the wording in our handbook so that I can make them burn it. ... The engineer and the road superintendent have the right to make you work to accumulate the comp time, we should have the same right to make you go home to get rid of it.”

Hysell will consult with human resources officer Paul Greufe to come up with a possible plan to implement these changes, but no decisions were made by the board at this time.

Engineer

There have been no applications for the position of county engineer. The supervisors voted to renew the 90-day agreement with Adair County for Nick Kaufman to continue to oversee items needing an engineer. However, Riley said Kaufman indicated that he would be OK with ending the agreement if the county finds a different solution.

The supervisors have met with Clarke County supervisors to discuss a possible long-term sharing agreement with its engineer, Christian Boehmer. These talks are in the beginning stages with no decisions being made.

Friday said the supervisors have also contacted some universities about hiring an engineer in training.

“They would have to ... get their certification under a certified engineer,” Friday said.

Friday said it is difficult to compete with the private sector due to the bonuses and other benefits available. Riley added that the job of a county engineer is more difficult due to having to deal with the public and satisfy the board on top of the engineer duties.

In other county business:

• the fiscal year 2021 budget was approved by the supervisors after a public hearing with no written or oral public comment.

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.