Tri States Public Radio Staff
Two County Seats
Sun February 2, 2014
Lee County Resident Wants Public Forum
One Lee County resident wants to give taxpayers an opportunity to learn more about a controversial issue.
Mary Van Pelt of Montrose has spent the last few months looking into how the county ended up with two county seats. She has studied newspaper articles, state code, and court rulings.
Van Pelt has been presenting her findings to the Lee County Board of Supervisors during its weekly meetings.
She says the time has come, though, for the county to provide its own research to the public.
Van Pelt would like the county to hold a public forum on the idea of one county seat versus two county seats.
It would give taxpayers an opportunity to learn how much it costs to operate county government, as is, how much it would cost to restore several offices in both Keokuk and Fort Madison, and how much it would cost to move most government functions under one roof.
Van Pelt would like the forum to be held at a neutral location like Central Lee High School as it is about 15-miles from both county seats.
The supervisors seem open to the idea as long as it occurs after the county’s upcoming budget is certified in mid-March. They even designated several people to work with Van Pelt to collect information.
She says she eventually wants the public to vote on whether to have one county seat in Lee County.
Meanwhile, Lee County will pay up to $50,000 for emergency repairs to the sanitary sewer system in Argyle.
Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) owns the system, which Executive Director Bruce Hudson says is far too small to function properly.
He says that is why RUSS filed a lawsuit against the engineering firm that designed it.
Hudson and Lee County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ernie Schiller both say the upgrade cannot wait until the lawsuit is resolved.
Schiller says that is why the county acted in authorizing the money.
"Now (Hudson) will be able to start and get that proceducre going," says Schiller, "and get it out to bid yet this winter."
Lee County's contribution should cover about 25% of the cost of the project, with the rest coming from a USDA grant.
Schiller says if RUSS wins its lawsuit, there is a chance the county could be reimbursed for some or all of its contribution.
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