State of the County
State of the County Address
2017 was a great year for Story County. Our first Board of Supervisors' meeting in 2017 included two Supervisors, Marty Chitty and Lauris Olson, who had not been part of the Board when we started 2016.
We found common ground quickly, and by focusing on key issues:
We were able to come together to maintain a balanced, responsible budget even with ever-increasing needs and costs. In fact, Story is now one of only two counties in Iowa to balance our budget in each of the last 5 years.
We came together to continue to control spending. In Fiscal Year 17, we actually spent $39.2 million. That is down over $3 million from FY16, and down over $5 million from FY11.
We came together to once again lower our levy rate in FY17. That's three times in the last four years, and is down 8.75% since FY10. That translates to an actual reduction of $1.2 million in property tax dollars collected comparing FY16 to FY17.
Chair - Story County Board of Supervisors
We came together to invest in water quality and public areas. In fact, Story County is the first county in Iowa to complete an assessment of all of our watersheds. Phase 1 of the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor is substantially complete with Phase 2 to begin shortly.
We came together to continue to fully assist our smallest communities by making investments in their improvements. 2017 brought the opening of Cambridge's new community building as well as park improvements in Story City and Main Street improvements in Zearing, Slater, Collins, Gilbert and Roland.
We came together to increase our support of ASSET (our social services safety net), which is up 82% since 2011.
We came together to maintain and enhance our transportation system. In 2017, we paved almost three miles of previously gravel roads, marking the first substantial road improvements, transitioning from gravel to concrete, in 20 years. We also continued our complete commitment to creating a sustainable program to replace all of our 280 bridges on an ongoing basis. In the 20-year period from 1993-2012, Story County replaced only 24 bridges. Contrast that with the last five years where we have replaced 23 bridges, four times the previous pace; and with 26 more scheduled in the next v years, we are well on our way to catching back up.
We came together to assist in development of additional housing in Story County as we continue to grow. Our commitment to the newly formed Story County Housing Trust Fund Board has been demonstrated both in dollars and involvement.
We came together to enhance workforce development efforts in Story County which has never been more vital than now, with our current unemployment rate hovering at or near the lowest in America. That, coupled with the reality that we have over 1,000 well-paying jobs unfilled today, clearly demonstrate a need to continue to increase our commitment to developing a skilled workforce.
We came together to work with CICS (our regional mental health system) and local first responders and health care providers to offer the most complete range of mental health services in Iowa. Let's be clear, there has never been a time that more mental health services have been available in Story County. Our partnership with MGMC means that in 2018 we will see an addition of a mental health crisis facility to help complete our spectrum of services in Story County.
Additionally, we continued to fully-support public safety and our justice system. I have to tell you how lucky we all are to have Jessica Reynolds and Paul Fitzgerald protecting Story County. There is no finer County Attorney in Iowa than Jessica and Paul continues his career-long commitment to having the best trained, most well equipped Deputies and staff anywhere.
Auditor Martin and her staff continue to run outstanding elections and closely scrutinize every County transaction.
Treasurer Twedt and Recorder Herridge run the two most customer-centered operations that I have ever seen in a governmental entity
2017 was truly a great year, not without its challenges. Some of you followed those issues in the Ames Tribune and online. In spite of those challenges, we were able to continue to move Story County forward at an incredible pace considering where we were just 10 years ago.
To learn more about everything going on in Story County please check out our 2017 Annual Report, read our newsletter "Our Story" which is delivered to every residence in Story County quarterly, or visit our website at storycountyiowa.gov.
Story County is a wonderful place to work, play and live. Thank you to all our staff and Elected Officials for working every day to not only maintain the highest level of service to our citizens, but to continually raise the bar higher and higher. I had a blast in 2017, and while 2018 is just getting started, I believe it is going to be our best year yet!