Supervisors OK hiring outside counsel

By Mary Zielinski
Posted 6/3/21

Following an approximate 40-minute closed session at the start of their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 1, the Washington County Board of Supervisors approved hiring Ann Smisek of the Ahlers & …

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Supervisors OK hiring outside counsel

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Following an approximate 40-minute closed session at the start of their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 1, the Washington County Board of Supervisors approved hiring Ann Smisek of the Ahlers & Cooney law firm of Des Moines. The closed session followed the provisions of Iowa Code Section 21.5(1)(c) “...to discuss strategy with counsel in matters that are presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent where its disclosure would likely prejudice or disadvantage the position of the governmental body in that litigation.” 

County Attorney John Gish was present at the meeting.  

Ahlers & Cooney, has a long history of representing municipalities. Attorney Smisek currently leads the Collective Bargaining/Labor Law Practice Group.

When the board returned to open session, there was a brief discussion about the State of Iowa COVID Relief Funds allocated through the federal government. 

Washington County will receive $4,366,444, of which half has been awarded.

The board, last week, discussed the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) guidelines regarding the seven categories for use of the funds. However, it was noted then and again on Tuesday that there are no fixed regulations regarding use of the funds.

“We have no final rule yet,” said Board Chairman Richard Young, stressing that “we will continue to work on this,” adding in that there will be further review and discussions including seeking public input.

“We will need to have a public hearing,” he said. 

There also likely will be a core group formed to review input from sub-groups consisting of possible appointees and volunteers. Among suggestions last week was a consideration for a building facility to house county administrative offices and the Public Health department.

The Supervisors also received a COVID-19 update showing that as of June 1, there were no current COVID outbreaks in any of Washington County’s long-term care facilities, and only one hospitalization.  There is a reported 18,051 residents who have been vaccinated, or 40.6% of the population.  In the state, there are 2,772,516 who have been vaccinated for 41.5% of the population.

Currently, Washington County’s  positivity rate is 2.1%, the same as Johnson County.  The rate in Jefferson County is 1.7%.

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