JOHNSON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

Johnson County Fair request receives icy response

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IOWA CITY

A request of more than $140,000 to help finance the annual Johnson County Fair and other activities at the fairgrounds landed with a thud at a Johnson County Board of Supervisors work session June 15.

The Johnson County Agricultural Association included line items of $55,273 for payroll, $24,321 for insurance and $4,000 for parking attendants during the fair.

Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass, a critic of fairground requests in previous board appearances, said she would support only “a much lower number” than $140,000 if a Fiscal Year 2023 service agreement is initiated between the Agricultural Association and the county.

Supervisors said fair officials have not provided financial reports to the board, among other things. The fair board recently lost its coordinator.

Supervisor Jon Green of Lone Tree asked for an independent financial audit.

“Given the mismanagement and the noncompliance, not responding to this board’s inquiries, I’m not comfortable with any amount of money until I see some sort of independent financial account of their circumstances,” Green said.

The 2022 fair is scheduled to be held July 24 through 27. Projected expenses for the fair are about $80,000 with $47,400 in fair income and a state grant before county money kicks in.

“So what do we want to have happen here?” asked Supervisor Rod Sullivan. “Personally, I think the fair is important to thousands of Johnson County residents. I think it’s a really important annual ritual for thousands of local families. I just don’t want to see that ended because some schmuck failed to get us a report.

“I mean, the fair’s been going on for 170 years or something. I don’t want to be one of the ones that ends it. I want to try to help them do what they need to do to be successful at it.”

Green-Douglass said the Board of Supervisors had previously extended that help.

“We’re at the point, you’ve got to step up and make some decisions on how you’re going to increase funding coming in,” Supervisor Pat Heiden said, directing her remarks at fair officials who were not present at the board meeting. “So that you take ownership.”

Further discussion was tabled to another work session this week.

The board also considered revising the vacation plan for county employees so that they don’t have to wait nine years for a vacation benefit to increase from three to four weeks. Also discussed was the cap on accrued vacation days for those retiring or leaving a county job.

Three weeks of vacation for new employees was put into place Jan. 1, 2022.

A plan proposed by Green-Douglass would give employees four weeks of vacation in their fourth year of employment, five weeks beginning in their eighth year and six weeks for those with 15 years and more of service time. Currently, the most time a long-term employee can get is five weeks per year.

At its formal session June 16, the board approved a $57,685 contract with HR Green Fiber and Broadband of Cedar Rapids for consultant services in a broadband infrastructure study.

“This is one of the goals on the economic development plan because the lack of affordable and quality broadband came up over and over and over for those in the small towns in unincorporated areas,” said Josh Busard, Director, Johnson County Planning, Development and Sustainability.

The board also approved a deputy sheriff job description that includes a residency requirement of 25 miles. Sheriff Brad Kunkel wanted the residency requirement increased from 20 miles in order to help with recruiting of new police officers.

Johnson County Fair, Johnson County Supervisors, Jon Green

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