Recent Interview Conducted between Dallas County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Bob Eschliman with the Dallas County News.
1. What would you say was the county’s best achievement in 2009?
• Probably stability and transparency in government. We are currently on budget for both revenues and expense for this current year and the budget is available on the Dallas County website, along with most department goals and objectives. I am just beginning my 6th year. After our sheriff, dream lake, courthouse floors failing, Project Destiny, hog lot expansion, CIETC and the airport it is really nice to see the County government run without distraction. The elected officials and key department managers’ concentration on how to serve our residents this year has been outstanding. The federal and state governments are in some difficult financial circumstances, I can report to our residents we are in pretty good shape.
2. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, what do you believe should be the county’s top priority in 2010?
• Our budget and our responsibility to our taxpayers. We will be affected by the actions of our State Legislature this session and we will have to be conservative in our budget. We need to have our county budget certified prior to March 15, much sooner than we will know the impact from the state. We are hopeful this year to provide some wage adjustments for the employees that work extremely hard to serve our residents. We have seen some increase in valuations, so we should be able to do that and still lower the overall tax levy. I believe the Board is interested in seeing additional progress made on completing the north trail loop for the Raccoon River Valley Trail. (funding has been assured through numerous grants and generous contributions). The Board is interested to have the wetland mitigation bank fully approved (adjacent to Voas Conservation Area, Minburn) by the Army Corp. of Engineers. The other issue of great interest to me is how to best provide services to the residents of the county, with the demographic shifts that continue to change the status quo.
3. What are some other top issues the board will address in 2010?
• This year we will be updating and finalizing our Dallas County Comprehensive land use plan. We are still an agricultural based county, yet the cities want to continue to annex land from unincorporated county. We need to understand this dynamic because it does affect our revenues and how we will be able to pay for road improvements in the future.
4. The City of Adel plans to begin a brick streets project in the courthouse square this summer. As a historian and a member of the Board of Supervisors, what are your hopes for the project, and how will the county negotiate the lack of parking space?
• I certainly want to see the courthouse square remain brick. At the turn of the century there was a great debate over brick streets versus this new stuff called asphalt. My biggest concern is @ what cost to the county taxpayers. Since we own a fair amount of building frontage…what will the county assessment be? Parking is a tricky issue, however, it is not necessarily the parking for the courthouse itself, but for the availability of parking for the licensing and motor vehicle station. That service might be more convenient for our citizens not in downtown Adel anyway. I have lived in large cities (Mpls., LA and Chicago) and really feel that there is ample parking within a two block radius of the central square. With some good vision maybe it should be more of a walking/pedestrian square rather than a parking square in the future. People are trying to recreate the Adel look with new development with faux facades…Adel has the opportunity to look back as they update for the future. As you might remember the residents of Dallas County made a 10 million dollar investment to save “her majesty” the Dallas County Courthouse right in the center of the square. Maybe the square itself can become a greater attraction by incenting some new investment and creative thinking.
5. What are some capital projects the board will be considering in 2010?
• We need to continue to maintain our current infrastructure including our road system. Going to geothermal for the Jail and the Courthouse was extremely positive. We always have ongoing maintenance required for the County operations and are planning to do window replacements and tuck pointing for the Dallas County Care Facility building. I already mentioned the Wetland Bank and the Raccoon River Valley Trail projects that are major/long term improvements for our county. We continue to discuss the need for an additional administrative building to incorporate some county functions that are currently housed in rented/leased buildings; however there is nothing firm to bring forward for bid at this time. The County Road department will be involved in a major bridge repair in Dawson and at the same time we are hoping to include another boat ramp for the North Raccoon at Dawson.
6. Is there anything else you would like to communicate to the people of Dallas County?
• It has been my privilege to serve you. I can be reached by calling 515-993-5806 or by e-mail email@example.com Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I look forward to another good year for Dallas County and its’ residents.