Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

Previous Posts


November 25, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 11/29/11

In this edition:

*JECC Update
*The Facts on TIFs
*Welfare Queens?
*Did You Know?

*JECC Update
The saga of the Joint Emergency Communications Center (JECC) rolls on. I brought up 8 points to the JECC Board at their public hearing on November 18. Those were:

1. Public hearings should not be at 7:30 AM. That is not being accessible to the public.

2. Public hearings should be at the beginning of scheduled meetings, not the end. The public should not be expected to wait an hour.

3. The proposed budget was sorely lacking in detail.

4. The JECC Board should have reviewed the proposed budget prior to its publication.

5. The proposed budget did not reflect the $275,000 the JECC is receiving from the E911 Board.

6. The JECC Board should commit to extremely low reserves. This is complicated, but directly related to the TIF situation in Johnson County.

7. The proposed increase in the budget was WAY too high!

8. As I have said since before the JECC was created, the form of governance is not good, and leads to problems such as the seven previous issues.

I know the JECC Board has promised to “dramatically” lower the budget. We’ll see if their version of “dramatic” and mine are similar. And hopefully they will follow my advice regarding low reserves.

So, that is your JECC update.

The real question here is WHY must I give you another update? Why has the JECC taken so many hours of my time when I have never served on that board? Why has this endeavor been so screwed up for 3+ years?

When the reserves were being discussed, it was suggested that the JECC Board should get something in writing, given the “history” between the JECC Board and the Supervisors.

First, let’s be completely clear exactly what that “history” has been. It is a history of parochialism, profligate spending, poor planning, and terrible hiring. The JECC Board did all those things. Four Supervisors complained about it. That is your “history”.

If you would characterize a crime victim and her assailant as having a “history”, then I suppose you see things this way. Frankly, I see the “history” as being pretty damned one sided.

From the beginning, it has been 2 Iowa City Councilors, 2 Coralville Councilors, a North Liberty Councilor, and one Supervisor making decisions for the JECC. Sheriff Pulkrabek has been the lone voice of reason on every important vote.

So, the JECC Board does not trust the Board of Supervisors due to “history”? Seems pretty ironic. That said, it cannot hurt to put some things in writing if it will save the taxpayers in the long run.

*The Facts on TIF
I have been talking about TIFs in Johnson County for over a decade now. Most folks choose to ignore me.

Hopefully, some of those folks will pay attention to the new report from the Iowa Policy Project: Tax-Increment Financing: A Case Study of Johnson County.

Abuse of tax-increment financing by cities in Iowa is a statewide problem. Johnson County offers an illustrative case study of why reforms are needed, and which reforms might help.

The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint policy analysis initiative of two nonpartisan, nonprofit, Iowa-based organizations: the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines. All IFP reports are at

A highlight – or lowlight, depending on your perspective: taxpayers living in the Clear Creek Amana school district are paying an extra $2.83 per $1000 valuation to fund Coralville TIFs. That means a CCA family living in a $200,000 house pays an extra $566 per year. That is real money!

The people who have abused TIF here in Johnson County are now on the defense. They are trotting out the same old arguments. Guess what? EVERY argument they make is refuted in the report.

Please take a look at this report. This is not Rod Sullivan talking – these are experts in municipal finance. Their findings are important. What they report affects us all.

*Welfare Queens?
My colleague Sally Stutsman serves on the State of Iowa Human Services Council, a citizen’s advisory group designed to guide the Department of Human Services.

In that capacity, she found some fascinating statistics regarding welfare in Iowa. (What is commonly referred to as “welfare” has also been called FIP and TANF; despite different sets of rules, we are talking essentially the same programs.)

The Iowa statistics certainly do not describe “welfare queens”. First, there were only 17,000 individuals in the program, out of over 3 million Iowa residents. That amounts to only one half of one percent!

The average Iowa welfare recipient in FY11 was a 20-29 year old Caucasian woman who received $338 per month in benefits. She remained on the program an average of 21 months.

Welfare is not a great living. People don’t get rich from it, and they don’t want to be on it. It is a vital safety net, but it is not a bed of roses.

Here is a test. If someone tells you welfare is so cushy, ask him to give his job to a recipient, and have him go on the program for awhile. You will not find any takers.

*DID YOU KNOW? The Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts in 1620. By the fall of 1621, only half of the original crew survived.

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.

If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.

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



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home