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Lee County Might Spend $800,000 on Building Repairs/Upgrades

Jason Parrott
The improvements to Lee County's buildings are expected to begin at the historic courthouse in Keokuk.

The Lee County Board is considering a proposal to spend $800,000 on its buildings over the next 18 months.  The county's maintenance department included $400,000 in its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins July 1, 2017. It also would like to spend an additional $400,000 to its FY17 budget.

Kirk Nafziger, who supervises maintenance operations in the northern half of the county, said much of the work proposed for the current fiscal year would center on the historic courthouse in Keokuk.

  • Roof Replacement
  • Clock Tower Stabilization
  • Brick Exterior Tuck-Pointing

The exact order of the improvement projects will be determined once Midwest Construction Consultants (MCC) provides the county board with a countywide priority list. Nafziger said the Keokuk projects are expected to be at the top of that list.
The county board seemed to support the $800,000 investment, with Supervisor Gary Folluo even suggesting adding another $100,000 to speed up the process. The board did not immediately agree to the extra spending, though members said it could be done if needed through a budget amendment.

Don Hunold, County Board Vice Chairman, said the discussion shows residents that the county is serious about repairing its buildings even after voters rejected a bond referendum to fund a single courthouse near the jail.

“I think we will get this stuff knocked out, like we told folks, in pretty short order. It may not be in a year, but I would say by the end of that second year, we will be where we need to be,” said Hunold.

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
The maintenance department is currently in the process of upgrading mechanical systems throughout the courthouse in Fort Madison.

Hunold hoped the priority list will be available for the Jan. 24 meeting at the county jail. It is being developed based on MCC’s experience with the county’s buildings, input from the maintenance department, and a report completed last year on the structural integrity of the courthouses.

The maintenance department said the $800,000 would also pay for cosmetic repairs that are needed, such as new carpeting, painting, and flooring. The money would come from local option sales tax (LOST) revenue.

Nafziger also urged the county board to set aside money for security improvements. He said while the LOST dollars cannot go for items like security cameras and key fobs, they could be spent on security doors and glass partitions.

The county board has until March 15 to finalize the county's spending plan for next fiscal year.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.