Johnson Co. Supervisors finalize $29 million spending agreement

Posted 11/22/21

In just a few days last week, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors finalized a $29.357 million spending agreement.

The county was awarded the funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Johnson Co. Supervisors finalize $29 million spending agreement

Posted

In just a few days last week, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors finalized a $29.357 million spending agreement.

The county was awarded the funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The planning for Johnson County’s funds involved six public input sessions over several months, work sessions that included the five-person Board of Supervisors and a three-person ARPA leadership team, and a long line of county residents speaking to the board, sometimes hotly, in open public input periods.

The board funded 37 projects with the $29.3 million, many of them involving affordable housing and childcare programs, and also providing financial help to county residents impacted by the loss of jobs and income during the pandemic.

The funding is spread out over six fiscal years. More than $5.6 million was approved for Fiscal Year 22, which ends June 30, 2022. In Fiscal Year 2023, which begins July 1, more than $6.2 million was budgeted.

“I think we are in a good place,” said board chair Pat Heiden, who also announced last week she would not seek reelection when her term expires in 2022.

One of the decisions that came under fire was the $2 million that the board allocated for workers who were ineligible for federal stimulus payments and other relief programs. Spanish-speaking immigrants and others from the Iowa City Catholic Worker House said the $2 million was not enough and the payments needed to be immediate and not delayed until early spring.

“Excluded workers cannot wait a second longer,” a caller on the Zoom broadcast said during the board’s formal session last Thursday.

The work session on Wednesday featured a full hour of public comments with many of the speakers pleading for help.

Nine of the 37 projects were awarded more than one million dollars apiece, topped by the $4 million allocated for developing affordable housing on Clinton Street. Improvements at Kent Park were approved for $3.4 million and creating affordable childcare programs on county-owned property was awarded $3 million.

In addition to the $29.3 million awarded to Johnson County, Lone Tree and Hills were among the cities receiving smaller ARPA allocations.

As positive cases of COVID-19 rise again in Johnson County, employees of the county may be facing a vaccination mandate. Most of the supervisors favor a testing option for those not vaccinated.

Susie Nehring of the county attorney’s office advised the board to take action per federal regulations, although those mandate rules are facing legal challenges.

It is unknown how many county employees are fully vaccinated, and the board approved a go-ahead for voluntary questionnaires to be sent to employees. All county buildings currently require masks, whether vaccinated or not.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation requires employers with over 100 workers to compile a roster of vaccinated employees by December 5.

As of last Friday, the number of cases in the county had risen to 447 and the positivity rate was 10.84%.

“A year ago we were praying for the vaccine to end this, and here we still are,” said Danielle Pettit-Majewski, Johnson County Public Health Director.

The board approved a number of public hearing dates, including the monthly hearing for platting and rezoning applications at the board’s formal session at 5:30 p.m. December 9. A public hearing concerning international and state building codes will be held at 9 a.m. December 2 and a public hearing over the proposed establishment of a Naples Avenue urban revitalization project will be held at 9 a.m. December 21.

The board also issued a proclamation in support of Sudanese residents of Johnson County, producing an emotional reaction of responses from Sudan natives who have watched with horror as a military coup in October has resulted in violence.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here