O'Brien County talks UDMO funding purpose

O’Brien County treasurer Missy Hattermann talks to the board of supervisors Tuesday, Aug. 31, about a tax abatement request for an empty parcel of property the city of Sutherland owns. The city acquired the parcel earlier this year from a municipal infraction.

PRIMGHAR—The funding purpose statement for Upper Des Moines Opportunity’s Outreach Center in Primghar is “simple” and “to the point,” according to O’Brien County supervisor Dan Friedrichsen.

He made the observation during the supervisors' Tuesday, Aug. 31, meeting after auditor Barb Rohwer read a brief statement summarizing how the community action agency benefits county residents.

“Upper Des Moines Opportunity provides emergency services to county residents such as food, energy assistance, referral services and budget counseling,” the statement said.

Rohwer recited the description, which the supervisors approved. The board also OK’d an allocation of $7,500 to UDMO for the fiscal year 2021-22.

Declaring the intent of the county’s funding to nonprofit organizations will be a norm for the county after Rohwer learned earlier this year counties are not allowed to donate to such organizations.

The topic came up during a webinar she attended in the winter in which the Iowa State Auditor’s Office said counties cannot give money to nonprofits and never have been able to.

When Rohwer and other county auditors sent a list of clarifying questions to state auditor Rob Sand regarding the matter, his office said counties pay nonprofits for their services “upon receipt of a verified invoice detailing those services and their cost.”

In that scenario, counties would not be donating to nonprofits but paying them for services rendered.

Supervisor Sherri Bootsma agreed with Friedrichsen the mission statement for UDMO “ticks all the boxes for explaining what they need.”

Friedrichsen asked if the board of supervisors will need to approve similar statements from other nonprofits for which the county regularly provides funds, such as the Elderbridge Agency on Aging, Family Crisis Centers and the Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault.

Rohwer confirmed it will need to do so and plans to have the supervisors approve them as she receives billing statements from each organization.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the supervisors approved a tax abatement for a parcel of empty property located at 300 E. Birch St. in Sutherland amounting to $556.

County treasurer Missy Hattermann said the city of Sutherland acquired the property through a municipal infraction and requested to abate the taxes, which accumulated 2017-19. A house was previously located on the parcel but was taken down.

Friedrichsen asked what will happen to the property going forward. Hattermann said the property will remain in the city’s possession.

Other items the supervisors addressed during the meeting included appointing David Faust as a trustee of Liberty Township and approving a utility construction application from Osceola Rural Water System Inc. between sections 28 and 29 of Grant Township.

Masks required in Iowa courtrooms again

Face masks are required to enter the courtroom on the third floor of the O’Brien County Courthouse in Primghar in accordance with a recent order from the Iowa Supreme Court. The court’s chief justice issued the mandate in response to increasing cases of COVID-19 across the state.