Fayette County Board of Supervisors

March 2019 - From the Chair

‘Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long
time ago.’

That quote attributed to Warren Buffett aptly describes part of the role of a
county supervisor in Iowa: looking ahead to the future and assuring that this
place we call ‘Home’ will still be here generations from now, and will continue to

Ask five different people to interpret the role of County Supervisor in Iowa and
you may very well get five different answers. However, Iowa Code stipulates that
the County Board of Supervisors is the executive branch of county government.
Fayette County’s three-member Board of Supervisors serve as the
policymakers for the county and administer various county programs. As
defined in Iowa Code Chapter 331, Supervisors’ powers include:

    • reviewing budget requests
    • appropriating funds
    • establishing county tax levies
    • enacting ordinances
    • filling employee vacancies

and hearing reports from county officers. The board is also responsible for
overseeing economic development in the county.

Fayette County is a member of Iowa State Association of County Supervisors
(ISACS) which recently offered this description of a county supervisor’s duty: “to
protect and preserve the rights, privileges and property of the county or of its
residents and to preserve and improve the peace, safety, health, welfare,
comfort and convenience of its residents.”

Typically, that doesn’t mean micro-managing, interfering with or dictating the
day-to-day business of elected and appointed officials in Fayette County. It
does however, suggest we provide leadership, and on occasion may assist in
working out challenges departments may face as a result of changes in law, or
unfunded mandates, as two examples. We are also tasked with fixing rules
relating to the use of county buildings and grounds and approving on a bi-
weekly basis, the claims sought of the county.

ISACS suggests county supervisors should have a knowledge of: agriculture
and conservation, budgeting, business management and finance, collective
bargaining, the court system, drainage districts, elections, human services,
libraries, planning, zoning and public safety, public health, secondary roads and
bridges and supervision of personnel.

Admittedly, few people elected to the role of supervisor come into the seat with
experience in every one of these areas, but it does help to have a varied
background and then be willing to learn as you go. While some of the above
categories require our involvement on a weekly or monthly basis, others may
only come before us on occasion or even on an annual basis.  Whether a
county is served by a three or five-member board is NOT designated by
population or geographic size – but rather, the will of the people who live there.

I think I can speak for all three of your board members when I say that we are
proud to serve you in county government. If you have a
concern/suggestion/idea for a specific department, we encourage you to
approach that department head first. Then if you feel the need to express your
concern further, give one of us a call.
By Janell Bradley
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