March 14


March 14, 2023

The Rooks County Board of Commissioners met with the following present:  Chairman, John Ruder, and Members Tim Berland and Kayla Hilbrink. Laura Montgomery, County Clerk, was present to record the minutes.  Virgie Laska was present to write a report for Stockton Sentinel. Ruder called the meeting to order and asked all to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Matt Whitney was in to discuss the increase of valuations. He had talked with Co Appraiser before the meeting. Whitney and his wife purchased a renovated 100-year-old home 13 years ago. They pay just over $3,700 in taxes.  Taxes they have seen steadily increase over the past 13 years. Their valuation has gone up $40,000 from last year, this will substantially increase his taxes. He feels the continually increases in taxes will force people out of their homes.   

Whitney asked about the plans for Redbud Facility. Ruder said the plan is to convey the facility to Plainville City which will allow them to build a new facility. County did help with the feasibility study. It is projected the new facility will pay for itself through increased fees and it being full. Whitney asked about using ARPA Funds for road equipment. Ruder said the Road and Bridge equipment is in good shape but the problem is lack of road employees. Berland stated the county is limited on what and how we can use the money. The county is not able to spend money on the roads. We have done things with the funds but there just hasn’t been enough funds for every request and project. Discussed having a grant writer on retainer. Discussed the Revenue Neutral Rate and keeping taxes lower for next year.  Berland said despite the declining population, the real estate does not leave. This biggest expense to the county has been fuel and utilities. This has affected the Road and Sheriff Departments. Ruder anticipate cutting the mill levy. The county will do their best to keep taxes down because they understand how much valuation has been gone up.

Upon Mr. Whitney completion of addressing the commissioners, the discussion was open to the general public who was in attendance. Many voiced concerns about how much their valuation has increased and how much this will increase their taxes. Montgomery explained how the Revenue Neutral Rate is figured and how that affects taxes. All of the commissioners understand the public concern and are willing to do what is necessary to keep taxes down.

Roger Morris with the historical society asked the commissioners to pay for the repair for the heater in the amount of $1,171.40. Also, the building needs electrical work. It cost $250 per hour for an electrician. Need to look at the lighting system. Someone donated a computer to the museum, do the commissioners know of someone to help set it up. Montgomery will send out an e-mail requesting someone to donate their time to help.  The museum has applied for grants from Andreson and Heartland Community Foundation to move the Linotype machine from Plainville to the museum.  Ruder made a motion to pay for repairs at museum. Hilbrink second the motion and Berland agreed.

Thelma Berland from USD 271 school board was in to request the commissioners purchase vaping detection units for a cost of $17,000 for the bathrooms. Ruder motioned to allowed $3,000 to USD 271 for vape sensors. Hilbrink and Berland agreed.

Bouchey weekly report: The excavator has been repaired. It cost $1,300 in parts to repair.  He is planning on removing a cotton wood tree on 18 Road and Y Road. He has been working with the utility companies to have utility lines and fiber optic lines moved. They have finished working the rock on Y Road. Berland has concerns about the 5 miles NW of Plainville, the road needs lots of attention. Discussed priority roads, U Road should be a main road as well as 16 Road and 14 Road. Bouchey said the dirt roads NE and NW of Plainville have been worked three or four times but not any rock roads. Once you get past U Road on 22, it hasn’t been worked. The road crew are to be out working when there is moisture. Berland said we have a county full of heavy traffic and it just beats the roads to death. Bouchey said he has a few applications and he is working towards crossing training his employees. Berland said we have three sections that have no road graders. Bouchey said he is short nine employees. Bill McCune, made the comment, this is a way to save money on fuel. It doesn’t do any good complain about the roads because nothing is being done. McCune asked about how it is decided which roads are FSA routes. Ruder said the state designates FSA routs. 

Bouchey said Strutt turned in his keys yesterday and is retiring.

Bouchey had asked Jerold DeBoer with Penco to visit with the commissioners about funding on the Zurich Black top. The county is applying for a grant but will not know until April 24th. The bid was approved but the county hasn’t signed the contract. Bouchey doesn’t know what will happen if the county can’t get the additional funding. Jerold thinks if the funding fell through, APAC will work with the county.

DeBoer said they have surveyed the bridge north of Woodston for the project. DeBoer and the commissioners discussed bridges.  

Bouchey said they have been working the road north of the hospital to repair and fill cracks in the asphalt.

Bouchey and the commissioners discuss personnel and roads.

Shayn Balthazor, had requested records for the road department equipment repairs so he would know where and how much is spent on repairs. Balthazor request to have repairs done here in town instead of sourcing it out of the county. He thinks the county needs to do a better job of supporting the local businesses. Balthazor asked about the money being spent at the Golf Course. Ruder said it is making money and supports itself through green fees and memberships. Also discussed the bids on insurance of all county properties.

The commissioners reviewed the minutes from March 7th. Ruder made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Berland second the motion and Hilbrink agreed.

Commissioners discussed what it takes to apply for different grants such as grants for housing. Hilbrink said there is a LMI Survey associated with grants. Plainville City has a grant writer, discussed sharing cost. Hilbrink said she thought Kelli Hansen was going to start a business doing grant writing.

Mark Lowry, Garrett Insurance, presented the Airport Liability Insurance. Ruder made a motion to sign the application. Hilbrink second the motion and Berland agreed.

Ruder asked about roof repairs at the golf course.

Montgomery asked about paying the all of the insurance for EMS General Liability from Garrett Insurance as it was previously discussed only pay for half and the city pay for half. It was discovered the Interlocal agreement between the county and Stockton City, states the county is responsible for the EMS liability insurance. It was approved to pay for all of the insurance out of the ambulance fund. 

Receive by e-mail KRNC for a Zoom meeting on March 16th at 11:00 a.m.

Ruder received from Paving the Way Trail, a memorandum of understand for the commissioners to approve and sign. It is for the Trail around Plainville Lake. They will pay the county for rock so they can lay it down on the trail. Ruder made a motion to sign the Memorandum of Understand. Hilbrink second the motion and Berland.

Hilbrink made a motion to amend last week’s motion to dispose of the property in Plainville City to change the sale date to May 2nd to allow anyone wishing to protest the time as required by statue to do so and to amend the condition of sale that the facility continue to be used as an adult care facility.  Berland second the motion and Ruder agreed.

Hilbrink weekly report: she had lots of calls on valuation

Berland weekly report: he discussed people’s complaints about taxes, road maintenance and the increase of county expenses.

Heather Poore, County Appraiser requested to talk to the commissioners about non-elected personnel. Ruder made a motion to go into executive session to discuss non-elected personnel from 11:41 to 11:46 with Poore, Ruder, Hilbrink and Berland. Ruder requested an additional 5 minutes to 11:51 a.m. Upon return to open session, there was no further discussion.

Poore discussed going to city council meetings to present explanation on valuation.

Hilbrink made a motion to review and sign the weekly vouchers as follows. Berland second the motion and Ruder agreed.

FUND                                    WARRANTS                        AMOUNT

General                                80110-80139                       $13,541.07

Road & Bridge                     80140-80156                       $30,847.79

Noxious Weed                     80157-80161                       $4,361.62

Health Depart                      80162-80169                       $1,174.01

Sanitation                            80170-80173                          $647.10

Golf Course                         80174                                       $57.39  

GRAND TOTAL                                                                   $50,628.98

With no further business to transact, Hilbrink made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Berland second the motion and Ruder agreed.

Adopted this 21st Day of March, 2023




John Ruder, Chairman                                                                                                                                                                                 


Kayla Hilbrink, Member


Tim Berland, Member



Laura Montgomery, Certified County Clerk