Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 21, 2010

Sullivan’s Salvos 3/23/10

If it has not arrived already, you should be getting your Census form very soon. Please fill it out accurately and send it back!

An accurate Census makes a big difference financially for local governments. It is estimated that approximately $3500 comes back to a community for each individual that is counted. Fail to count 1000 folks, and you have essentially missed out on $3.5 million!

So please do your part, and submit your census data. It is important for all of us!

I am frustrated by the recent suggestion that the ICCSD use SILO money to keep property taxes lower.

The SILO is a sales tax, and is more regressive than property taxes. (Despite the opinions of some in the community, this fact is NOT in dispute. The vast majority of all economists agree.)

So by using the SILO, the ICCSD would, in effect, be shifting the expense of running our schools from wealthier people to poorer people. I opposed the SILO tax in the first place, and I oppose this shift of funds.

The ICCSD talks constantly about the difficulties they face in dealing with students who live in poverty. Why exacerbate the situation?

The Board of Supervisors had some interesting discussions regarding the creation of Level C roads.

A bit of background: most county roads are Level A. Some little-used roadways are signed “Level B – Minimum Maintenance”. These are usually dirt roads, and Johnson County attempts to minimize the amount of time and money that go into maintaining these roadways. There are currently about 45 miles of Level B roadways in Johnson County.

Level C roads are not commonly used in Iowa, but appear more frequently in the western US. Level C roads are maintained at the same low level as Level B roads. Level C roads remain public roadways, but private landowners are given permission to gate and lock the roads.

Locally, some farmers would like the option of Level C roads. They use these roads to access their farm fields. Unfortunately, some folks choose to tear these roads up with ATVs and/or mud-running trucks. They create ruts and damage that cause a hardship for the farmers. I am sympathetic to these farmers, who are simply trying to do their jobs.

That said, I am opposed to the use of Level Cs for several reasons:

1. A better option exists. We can just vacate county interest in the road, and give it to the adjacent landowners. This way, the landowners can block the road, but the county collects taxes on the land, and is absolved of all liability. Some Level B roads are very close to cities, and should be preserved for future use. Most are in very rural areas, and would serve everyone better if they were just converted to private driveways. I firmly believe Johnson County needs to consider vacating several miles worth of Level B roads.

2. Level C roads transfer the control of a public asset (the road) to a private citizen. Level Cs remain public property; how can we justify awarding private control? This would just amount to privatizing the profits but socializing the costs.

3. If we give keys only to adjacent landowners, we are picking and choosing a select group of citizens that have permission to use a public asset. What about a farmer who does not own adjacent land, but uses the road as a cut through between two parcels? Shouldn’t he have a right to a key? What about hunters who want to use it as a cut through? What about snowmobilers who use the road? I do not think it is wise to begin choosing who gets access and who doesn’t.

4. If we give landowners the option of Level C roads, everyone would choose it. Who wouldn’t want to limit the traffic that goes by their property? I would imagine that we would soon be asked to switch all 45 miles of Level B to Level C. Sure, we would not be required to do so… but what justification would we use for saying no?

The Board decided to pass on Level C roads for now. I hope the topic never returns. Meanwhile, I hope we consider vacating more Level B roads. I firmly believe that this would allow the county to put valuable resources toward the roads that really need it, and to relieve the taxpayers from subsidizing what is essentially private property.

In case you missed this news: Historians criticized proposed revisions to the new Texas social studies curriculum, saying that many of the changes are historically inaccurate and that they would affect textbooks and classrooms far beyond the state's borders.

The changes, which were preliminarily approved last week by the Texas Board of Education, will reach define what textbooks must include and what teachers must cover.

The curriculum plays down the role of Thomas Jefferson among the founding fathers, questions the separation of church and state, and claims that the U.S. government was infiltrated by Communists during the Cold War.

I’m not sure I even need to comment on this. I find it amazing on one hand, but sadly unsurprising on the other.

DID YOU KNOW? Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 157 people for OWI in 2009.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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