County Board of Supervisors approves, releases fiscal 2020 budget estimate

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved their 2020 fiscal budget, allocating funds toward new county positions and renovation projects.

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County Board of Supervisors approves, releases fiscal 2020 budget estimate

Andy Mitchell, News Reporter

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The Johnson County fiscal 2020 budget estimate, approved by the Board of Supervisors last week, focuses heavily on capital projects and renovation.

County financial administrator Dana Aschenbrenner said in an email to The Daily Iowan that some of the investments in the new budget include 12 new county positions, funding for the new Crisis Intervention Facility, historic courthouse renovation, and such grants as the Affordable Housing Trust.

“We continue to support several local organizations in the community through our various block-grant programs including another annual grant of over $600,000 to the Affordable Housing Trust and the financial support of the various libraries throughout the county of over $850,000,” he said in the email.

The added positions include two new full-time employees in the Ambulance Department to allow for the expansion to a fifth ambulance unit to operate four hours a day, seven days a week; three positions in the County Attorney’s office; three positions in Public Health; a natural resource specialist in the Conservation Department; and a code enforcement inspector in the Planning and Zoning Department, Aschenbrenner said.

“There are some things that just have to happen,” Supervisor Chair Lisa Green-Douglass said. “The entire county benefits.” 

RELATED: Johnson County voters elect Democrat Royceann Porter to Board of Supervisors 

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said the addition of the new positions addresses the needs of a growing county. Johnson County has been the second-fastest growing county in Iowa, adding 20,000 people over the last nine years, he noted. The county is currently the fourth most populous county in the state.

“I know that we are lucky because in some counties, their overall populations are going down, and they have to lay people off as opposed to hiring them,” Sullivan said.

Aschenbrenner said that in the courthouse renovation, the plans are fluid, with the hope that more judges will be assigned locally to make the system more efficient and minimize case backlogs. The third-floor commons area and the clerk of court’s offices are also on the list to be renovated over the next year, he said.

“We’re excited for the summer when we start construction on the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center,” Sullivan said.

Green-Douglass said the effort to build the Behavioral Center is spearheaded by the county with the help of Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty. With the new center and affordable housing, she said, the county and the three cities are “in sync.”

While taxes levied by the county have gone up 1.6 percent from last year, she said, the rate is still down from three years ago.

“I think given all the services the county provides, that gives you pretty good value for your money,” Sullivan said.

A public hearing for the budget estimate will be held on Feb. 27.

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