OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Board of Supervisors set May 4 as a date for a public hearing to amend the current budget during Tuesday's weekly meeting at the courthouse.

Usually the county makes "at least one adjustment" a year to the budget, according to auditor Kelly Spurgeon, and any unforeseen COVID-19-related expenses will be a part of the amendment.

The current fiscal year ends June 30.

"Different departments have reviewed their budget since the end of March to see if their expenditures are going to go over what they originally budgeted last year," Spurgeon said. "So a lot of the expenses relate to COVID, and we have to amend what we've spent for that."

Any amendment to the budget requires a public hearing, supervisor Jerry Parker said.

"(Amendments) are created just like the budget, so you set a public hearing and hold the public hearing. Even though we don't end until June 30, people have the right to protest, just like they do our budget," he said. "If they protest, then that could hold it up until after July 1, and you can't amend a closed-out budget, so that's one reason you have to do it earlier. So if you're deficient prior to July 1, you're deficient because of timing, not because you did something wrong."

Spurgeon pointed out her department has a budget amendment because the county held two special elections "that we didn't have budgeted for" which caused them to purchase additional items for polling places. Also, the office received grant funding to buy a new machine to count absentee ballots rather than hand-feeding them one at a time.

"Keep in mind that our budget is done so early," supervisor Brian Morgan said. "You know, we completed a budget this year at the end of January, had a hearing a little over a month ago, and it won't go into affect for another 2 1/2 months. So with any end-of-the-year you're going to have some amendments. It's a year-and-a-half-out moving target."

In other business, the supervisors:

• heard from county recorder Lisa Kent regarding a renewal of a scanning software licenses. The office has been scanning boat and ATV records, but is now beginning to scan old books.

"It's an ongoing project," Kent said to the supervisors. "That's mainly what we're using that 60,000-image license for, because each of my books probably has between 1,000 and 1,100 pages in them."

The hang-up, Kent said, was scanning and indexing the larger books. She is seeking outside companies for that project because the flat scanners and copiers in the office are too small to capture complete images.

"It's rather costly, and I don't anticipate that I'm going to have enough money in my records management to cover that," she said, adding that she would get estimates for how much the project would cost, but hoping the supervisors could help with the cost.

Kent said previous plat books, about a dozen, were scanned for approximately $15,000 about three years ago by someone she has worked with in the past.

"And we're talking, depending on how far back I want to go, we're probably talking anywhere from 50 to 75 books," she said. "Now some of those are microfilm and some copies were made, but we also found out the microfilm is not in that great of shape.

"I just want to have a backup in case something does happen, and we're finding out that our microfilm is not good. And then I lose books, and I don't have any way of reconstructing them."

The supervisors approved the renewal purchase, and believed it was possible to help pay for the cost of the project once an estimate is known.

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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