County insurance costs drop

Insurance premiums for the county have dropped by more than $200,000 over the past few years thanks in part to safety programs, according to insurance agent John Dencklau.

In addition to the insurance report, the Webster County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement to rent space to the FBI for communications equipment during its regular meeting Tuesday.

A hearing was set for a proposed zoning ordinance change which may help one developer’s plans move forward. The board also received bids for diesel fuel for the Engineering Department, and made plans for further bridge replacements.

Premiums for the county’s Workers Compensation Insurance are down to $141,808 this year, said Dencklau.

“If you remember, we had some claim issues four or five years ago,” Dencklau said. “That raised our premium up to about $415,000 two years ago, and it went down to $310,000 last year.”

When the county saw those numbers, it got serious about safety, said Tim Kirgan, representative for the Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation Association.

Thanks to effective safety programs, the county greatly reduced its claims, Kirgan said, which caused the experience modification factor to go down. This determines how much higher or lower than a base rate an organization’s premium is.

Webster County’s modification factor was 1.3, one of the highest Kirgan has seen, but is now down to 0.78.

“You guys are a great success story,” he said.

Communications

The FBI will sign a license to rent space at the county’s communications tower, located at 1907 230th St., just north of U.S. Highway 20 and west of the Webster County Fairgrounds.

This is currently used to facilitate two-way communications for various services, said County Engineer Randy Will. The expenses are cost-shared 50 percent by emergency management, 25 percent by the Sheriff’s Department, and 25 percent by the Secondary Roads Department, he said.

The FBI will put up their own repeater, Will said.

“My understanding is they had a void in this area. They’re going to relocate their communications from Ames up to Fort Dodge, and that will give them better coverage,” he said.

The FBI will pay the county $432 per month for the space, with a 3 percent increase per year throughout the ten year license.

“I think it’s a win-win,” Will said.

Possible zoning changes

A public hearing was set for 10 a.m. July 1 to consider an amendment to the zoning ordinance proposed by Clyde Knupp.

Knupp has been in contact with the supervisors regarding land he is developing in the Airport Industrial Park. His development plan was platted in 1978, but changes to the zoning law in 2009 mean the plan is no longer in compliance with the law.

At that time the setback requirement was changed from 25 feet to 50 feet back from the property line, Supervisor Clark Fletcher said.

Of the 20 acres of land originally platted, 16 have been developed, and the Knupps intend to build a self-storage facility on the remaining 4 acres.

The Supervisors made no comment Tuesday other than to set the hearing.

Other business

Bids for three bridge replacement projects will be let on July 1. The bridges are located on Xavier Avenue about one mile south of U.S. Highway 20, and will be replaced with metal culverts, Will said.

W & H Co-op, of Humboldt, offered the lowest bid to supply diesel fuel to above ground storage tanks at Webster County Secondary Road maintenance facilities.

The companies bid on a margin per gallon they would charge for delivery. The cost of the fuel itself will be determined by data from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

W & H bid 10.5 cents per gallon for No. 1 diesel, 9.5 cents for No. 2 diesel, and 9.5 cents for premium diesel. With the estimated fuel usages, this makes a total of $9,075. Will said he will prepare a contract for the supervisors to approve for next week’s meeting.

The supervisors also agreed to waive planning and zoning fees for the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, since it is a nonprofit organization. The trust operates the Iowa Learning Farm south of Otho.

This has been done before for other nonprofit groups, said Planning and Zoning Administrator Sheilah Lizer.