Supervisors look for authorized assistance on their authority to restructure court docket method (copy) | The Hawk Eye – Burlington, Iowa
An amendment in a house tax reform bill that Lee County Supervisors say may well have allowed them to consolidate the county’s two courthouses or restructure courtroom expert services was omitted just prior to the bill’s passage in the Iowa Legislature past 7 days.
Whilst Supervisor Chairman Gary Seyb and many others frequently claimed they in no way prompt this when assembly with Condition Senator Dan Dawson – a Republican from Council Bluffs who spearheaded the reform endeavours.
Nonetheless, Seyb mentioned the county’s distinctive circumstance of obtaining two county seats, and hence getting two courthouses, did appear out all through initial conversations with Dawson.
“One of the points I brought up is that was 1 of the unfunded liabilities we have in Lee County is that we have to deliver two courthouses,” Seyb explained at Monday’s supervisors’ assembly.
Supervisor Tom Schulz explained Dawson in fact introduced up the subject matter when asking them why they had been anxious about cash when Lee County is equipped to find the money for two courthouses.
“The reply to that was ‘because we have to.’” Schulz mentioned.
Sheriff Stacy Weber was also current for that discussion and claimed Dawson was not pleased and insisted they come across strategies to lower paying.
“That’s when we pointed out that he wants to get into consideration that every single time we communicate about the court docket process in our county we have to get that moments two,” Weber reported, adding that they went on to clearly show that Iowa Code states a county seat is to have a courthouse.
Seyb claimed Dawson very likely put the modification in the first house tax reform bill to appease them, but that provision was deleted before the final vote.
In part, the amendment mentioned “A county that has specified extra than one metropolis to be a county seat may perhaps consolidate or decrease the quantity of county seats by ordinance.”
Schulz mentioned he has questioned local legislators – Condition Rep. Martin Graber (R-Fort Madison) and State Senator Jeff Reichman (R-Montrose) – to solicit a authorized opinion about the board’s authority to consolidate or restructure court docket functions. If the lawmakers do not, Schulz urged the board to have Lee County Legal professional Ross Braden reach out to the Lawyer Standard.
Seyb claimed he supported the county seat amendment inside of the assets tax monthly bill.
“I think it should really be up to this body to determine regardless of whether we’re likely to have two courthouses or not,” Seyb mentioned, including that the county pays insurance policy, heating, cooling, regulation enforcement for each courthouse when they could consolidate functions and tremendously lower individuals bills. “That is a person space that, to me, just screams cost savings.”
Supervisor Matt Pflug explained the idea of developing 1 centrally positioned courthouse was set to Lee County voters seven years in the past and they overwhelmingly rejected the it.
Supervisor Ron Fedler stated that was when they wished to location county workplaces at that new courthouse and to go the Lee County Wellness Section to the North Lee County Office creating in Fort Madison.
“I was pushing for this to cut down costs and for the reason that there would be only a person position to go for all your county expert services. Fort Madison and Keokuk voted it down because it wasn’t in their towns. They the two would concur with it, but only if it was in their town,” Fedler reported.
Seyb explained he has never ever needed to shift court services to a person location, but instead to restructure the court docket program in 1 locale.
Supervisor Chuck Holmes reported he was told the courthouse does not have to physically be found in the county-seat metropolis and questioned why the board couldn’t designate a location for the court docket technique.
“I feel there is politics in Lee County that states anybody that desires a person courthouse will not be re-elected, so no person needs to say that. That’s why they put it before the men and women. I assume any individual was worried about what the modification would do and they experienced the amendment pulled (from the invoice). I think it was pure politics.”
He reported the condition law ought to adjust ahead of the county board could designate a county seat locale or restructure the court docket process.
“When it comes to the courthouses, it is a political warm potato that nobody desires look at and do the correct matter. Possessing two courthouses is a squander of funds and it is the Lee County taxpayers that are paying for them.”
Seyb reported the modification could resurface in the course of subsequent legislative session but that in the meantime, he agreed with Schulz that a legal impression is required to outline the boards authority and options.