• Last modified 286 days ago (Aug. 10, 2023)


Staff writer

Although two commissioners would rather a new health department be located in Hillsboro, the county reviewed seven architectural firms’ proposals Monday to design a health department building at a former food bank site at 1220 E. Main St. in Marion.

Commissioners Jonah Gehring and Kent Becker have consistently said they think a new health department should be located in Hillsboro instead of Marion.

“That has been a point of contention and still is because of two of the commissioners,” chairman David Mueller said.

Despite Gehring and Becker’s objection to the location, they participated in review of proposals.

Mueller said architectural firms were asked to submit proposals for a 5,000- to 6,000-square-feet building appropriate for the health department.

He said the building would need 20 parking spaces and a drive-through service lane.

Asked whether the property would accommodate a building that size, Mueller said: “I’m confident it can be done.”

Bids were submitted by Alloy Architecture, BG Consultants, Falk Architects, HD Architecture, HFG, Landmark, and SPT Architecture.

Commissioners compared timelines, options, and costs, examining and comparing minutia of each proposal.

Commissioners decided to ask each firm what the cost would be if commissioners decided to do only part of the plans proposed in their bids.

Commissioners will consider the proposals again after firms answer their question.

Administrator search

Commissioners also took yet another next step in finding a county administrator.

John Deardoff of Deardoff Consulting met with commissioners to find out what qualifications they want.

“My purpose today is to really kind of start developing the profile,” Deardoff said. “What kind of experience are you looking for?”

Commissioner Randy Dallke said some cities have hired newly trained administrators and others have hired administrators with more experience.

“I’m willing to judge the person,” Dallke said.

Deardoff said in most cases, there is an education requirement, and sometimes experience is substituted for education.

“It’s a learning process for the person as well as for the commission,” Mueller said. “We want everything.”

Mueller said he wouldn’t rate financial knowledge high on the list for the candidate.

Most administrators want to be part of the budget process, Deardoff said

Gehring said an administrator could manage the county’s land bank.

“This is going to be a contract employee,” Deardoff said.

He asked commissioners to think about a salary range.

Gehring said they had $100,000 in mind.

Deardoff said he would look around to see what other counties were paying.

He estimated it would take 60 to 90 days to get out a call for applications and have responses.

Deardoff said he would be surprised to get more than 20 applications and expects to bring five back to commissioners.

Deardoff said that when he worked as an administrator he received the same insurance and time off as other employees.

He suggested giving an administrator “a little bit of a parachute if things don’t work out.”

In other matters, commissioners received gift baskets from county 4-H clubs, heard a report from county treasurer Susan Berg on the county’s upcoming tax sale, and discussed potential litigation with county counselor Brad Jantz.

Last modified Aug. 10, 2023