Iowa State Appeal Board files order in Osceola County budget objectionPublished by on
SIBLEY, Iowa – The Iowa State Appeal Board this week sustained the 2014 Osceola County Budget as it was adopted, but expects the Board of Commissioners to comply with budget and funding methods when certifying a 2015 budget.
A petition protesting the 2014 budget was filed in March, stating an objection to the method used to determine the public safety budget each town and unincorporated area of Osceola County is required to pay for law enforcement service. The petition states some taxpayers are paying more than their share of the public safety budget for Unified Law Enforcement. Remedies, the petitioners said, would require a forensic audit to determine the correct member contributions, levies and distribution required by statute.
During a hearing conducted on the matter last month, spokesperson Edwin Jones said the county attorney was neglecting his duties and perpetuating a violation of state law, adding the county has been funding public safety unlawfully, taking a much larger portion from the Unified Law Enforcement levy instead of assigning it to the County General Basic levy.
County Attorney Bob Hanson, speaking for the county, said the budget appeal should be dismissed because city budgets had already been certified without being challenged. Hanson indicated Osceola County have not followed the letter of the law, but have followed the spirit of the law. On four occasions in the past 16 years, budget and funding issues for the commission have been addressed, he said. The board and others believe the petition is an attempt by a small group of people to disband Unified Law Enforcement. The formula set out in Iowa code for a three year averaging of revenues for law enforcement purposes does not work, he said.
An order filed by the appeal board states Osceola County does not follow the statutory requirements in regard to how the contribution of each member is determined. Unless or until Iowa Code can be modified, the commission and other members should comply with the statute, the order states.
If necessary, the county auditor will have to exercise statutory responsibility to reduce the levies of any members not in compliance, the order states.