January 18, 2022

County to further develop proposals in 2022

A new year with 2022, but expect Union County to continue what was discussed in 2021.

“We don’t have a grand plan,” said Union County Supervisor Chairman Ron Riley. “I think the main things will be the TIF district and the urban renewal plan.”

The wind turbines in Union County are generating electricity. County officials are wondering how they can be generating benefits from tax revenue.

Supervisors will further research creating a Tax Increment Financing (TIF). In November, supervisors met with Maggie Burger, Senior Vice President with Speer Financial, to learn about the program.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a redirection of tax revenue. A taxing entity implementing the TIF receives the revenue from the levies set by all taxing entities with some exceptions. TIF revenue must be used for economic development which could be used to improve roads and bridges. TIF can only be used for the repayment of debt.

Union County has 34 wind turbines with a full valuation between $3.2million to $5.5 million, based on the turbine size and type.

Turbines start at a 0% and increase at 5% increments until they reach a max at 30% taxable valuation. The turbines in Union County were built in 2020 with a Jan. 1, 2021, value at 0%. Turbines can be a TIF for 20 years. The first year of collection is the first year counted for those 20 years. In Union County’s case that will be fiscal year 2024.

Riley said it would be good if priority would be given to bridges in need of replacement.

“As with all our funds, with secondary roads we need to spend it wisely,” he said. “Where can we get in tubes or culverts? There are bridges that might have to be closed in a year or two. We need to create some priorities and get tubes or culverts in place of them.”

With the county researching how to fund improvements to roads and bridges, it will do so without having its own county engineer. Union County has been without an engineer since November but is using Clarke County’s office and plans to do so in the near future.

“Let’s wait for a few months, unless someone just falls in our lap and it’s a slam dunk,” Riley said about engineer applicants. “Things are running smooth using Clarke County.”

The county had an engineer beginning in May but he was dismissed in November and details were not disclosed.

“We will continue to talk to Clarke County and ask how they are liking it, or if they tell us to do something,” Riley said about the sharing.

He added sharing an engineer is better than nothing as a few other Iowa counties are also searching for an engineer.

“There is a shortage of them,” he said. “You got to have four years of similar experience under another engineer. There are those engineers right out of college. Some of those come out of college and can make just as much money without dealing with a board of supervisors and the public.”

Riley said Union County is not alone as other counties are also sharing for the same service.

“I know of other counties without one for year or more and are still looking,” he said.

Riley said there are no new developments with BNSF’s proposal made in the summer to replace the overpass in Thayer.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.