Polk County will be adding at least one new staff member to the sheriff’s department following actions taken by the county board Oct. 15

During a discussion of a resolution about publishing the notice of the 2020 budget, supervisor Chris Nelson suggested adding a full-time drug investigator to the budget. Nelson told the board that the position would cost an estimated $130,000. After the salary and benefits number was revealed, Chief Deputy Chad Roberts told the board that the actual cost would be closer to $117,000.

Roberts was asked if any grant funding was currently available to help pay for the additional position. He told the board there currently isn’t any funding available, but there is a possibility that federal funds could be made available for a grant program in the coming year.

Roberts indicated the department would be applying for funds to be used for additional staff to deal with domestic violence. He told the board he believes an application for domestic violence follow up would have a better chance of being funded.

“The two issues our department deals with every day are meth and domestic violence,” Roberts said.

Finance Director Maggie Wickre, when asked about funding the position, told the board that there would be room to do so if the board made the maximum levy and used carryover funds from 2019.

“This (meth) is more important than anything we are facing,” Nelson said, adding, “We have an epidemic in the county.”

Supervisor Brad Olson, referring to the funding request and the moratorium passed earlier in the evening regarding concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) said, “Manure is not a problem, drugs are.”

After a discussion of what items could be trimmed from the department budget, a motion authorizing the inclusion of the position was passed.

In other action the board:

• Voted to pursue contract crushing at the lime quarry for a two-year trial period.

• Voted to evaluate expanding the county’s authority over “public nuisances beyond those that rise to the level of human health hazards.” The board heard that some township officials would like help from dealing with nuisance enforcement. Several supervisors expressed concerns about pitting neighbors against each other and the “slippery slope” of the county entering into enforcement. 

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