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The Monday, January 23 meeting of the Ringgold County Board of Supervisors, was an all day event.
The meeting ran from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and encompassed mostly fiscal year 2024 budget workshops.
The purpose of these budget workshops is for various County entities and organizations to submit proposals for funding to the County board of supervisors for consideration and distribution of funds.
While budgets were discussed, no official action was taken by the County board of supervisors regarding funding.
Any definitive decisions regarding funding will be made available to the public over the course of the next few weeks.
The agencies represented at this year’s budget workshop where the Southern Iowa Trolley represented by Leesa Lester, the department of public health, general assistance, and sanitarian represented by Becky Fletchall, connections area agency on aging represented by Kelly Butts, and the Ringgold County conservation board.
County emergency Management in 911 services, who would have been represented by Melissa Stark, were unavailable at this time and had their budget workshop presentation rescheduled for Monday January 30th.
Of particular interest at this board of supervisors meeting, was the presentation by Ringgold County Conservation Board.
In previous years the board was represented by Kate Zimmerman, however on this occasion she was not present and the rest of the board members made the budget proposal known.
During the proposal for the conservation board, a sizable crowd of approximately 35 people gathered in the county courthouse assembly room.
The most common response from the members of the public, who were in attendance, was their support for Kate Zimmerman.
Several questions were asked regarding any objections to the current budget proposal from the conservation board, or to previous conservation board request for funding.
With the county conservation boards budget frozen by the board of supervisors, aside from salaried cost of living increases, the board has not seen a budget increase since 2021.
The largest increase of the budget, proposed by the conservation board, is the hiring, of a second full time employee.
The purpose of this new hire, would be to alleviate the strenuous work load on Zimmerman, and to reduce overtime hours, which totaled over $10,000 last fiscal year.
While the RCCB has made adjustment to bring this total down from previous years, there is still a need for additional funds.
Board of supervisors member, Steve Knapp, recommended the conservation board re-purpose existing funds distributed in 2021.
Dale Walkup, of the conservation board, advised the supervisors that the funds in question had already been utilized to construct an essential bridge at Liberty Lake.
During the dialogue, supervisors board member Colby Holmes commented, “The reason for this (meeting) was all about the money.”
In response, Steve Trullinger, who was there as a member of the public, asked if this was about the money, why wasn’t Zimmerman’s previous success in grant acquisition considered.
When asked directly if he knew of any other group or individual who generated as much revenue for the county, Holmes stated he could not think of one.
A second concerned citizen, Sharon Walkup, brought up the fact that the board of supervisors seemed to disregard a matching grant secured by Zimmerman that would have doubled the expected revenue with ARPA funds received in 2022.
The board of supervisors response to this question, was also to state they were unaware of the situation.
In a direct statement from the conservation board, Doug Frost commented “Kate Zimmerman has done so much for Ringgold county, we owe her a debt, that can never be repaid.”
After 90 minuets of debate and dialogue, the board of supervisors stated they would consider the conservation boards proposed budget and make their determination known at a later date.