County agrees to Lake Park lot sale for possible fire dept. expansion
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to sell a parcel of land to the city of Lake Park, but the fully-supported motion didn't come without some debate. The lot lies behind Lake Park's fire station near the intersection of Avenue A West and West First Street. The city hopes to expand the fire station at some point, and the county researched how the property could be transferred. The county lot is slightly larger than the fire station's lot, and the potential sale would more than double the space available for an improved station.
Assistant Dickinson County Attorney Lonnie Saunders said there are typically two options under Iowa Code when property is being exchanged between two government bodies — it can be sold through a resolution and a public hearing, or it can be gifted, so long as the property is used for a public purpose.
"As far as I can tell, there's no reason you can't do a hybrid of those two things — sell it to them for a certain price and then gift some of it back, if you feel that's appropriate," Saunders said.
Supervisor Kim Wermersen moved to sell the 6,600 square-foot property to Lake Park at a price of $5,300, but also gift the city $3,900 for maintaining the property over 39 years — $100 for each year. The property has been assessed at a value of $5,300 since 2013, according to the Dickinson County Assessor's Office. Wermersen's motion also restricted the lot's use to a public purpose.
Though Supervisor Tim Fairchild was supportive of the sale, he was concerned specifying the $3,900 gift was for previous maintenance services could set a precedent for decades-long expectations of payment during future property transfers. Fairchild preferred the motion be rephrased to say only that the gifted $3,900 was in support of Lake Park's public project. Fellow Supervisors Steve Clark and Pam Jordan both said they could see either side of the issue. Ultimately, Wermersen left his motion as it was stated, saying he preferred the reasoning behind the dollar figure be recorded in the motion itself. Jordan seconded the motion, and the board unanimously approved the sale and gift.
Lake Park City Clerk Marie Matthiesen said she would inform the Lake Park City Council of the decision, and they will consider the matter further.
County resolution makes CARES Act request official
BY SETH BOYES - STAFF WRITER
Dickinson County has taken the first step in securing federal CARES Act funding allocated to it through the state. The board of supervisors voted Tuesday to approve a resolution officially requesting reimbursement from the state for expenses related to COVID-19 response efforts. The county was allocated $218,797.05 by the state. Local municipalities were allocated a combined total of $310,352.79. The dollar figures are based on U.S. Census data from 2019.
Dickinson Count Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ehret said the county had spent around $50,000 in COVID-19 related expenses as of last week. In addition, he said the county can also use the funds to cover 25 percent of payroll costs for county public safety personnel — such as sheriff's deputies. He said, to his knowledge, his own payroll would not qualify because his department is separate from the county.
The CARES funds may be used to cover COVID-19 related expenses incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 this year. Ehret said other county governments in the region are taking a variety of approaches, but he recommended Dickinson County consider placing the federal dollars in a special fund for COVID-19 expenses so it can be used to cover the cost of potential gaps in current response efforts or additional mitigation needs as the year progresses. In addition, he noted keeping the funds in a distinct account would likely make it easier to track expenses if the county is asked to reconcile its COVID-19 costs in the future.