Henry County sets records in collections, transfers

MT. PLEASANT — Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, several Henry County departments are seeing record numbers in collections and calls.

At a supervisors meeting on Thursday, department heads gave an update on their respective offices.

County Treasurer Ana Lair said she could not “find another month that [the department] had more revenue in motor vehicles.”

“People are buying cars, and, of course, some are catching up for the vehicle registrations,” Lair said.

In motor vehicle transactions alone, the department collected $621,000 in June.

Lair reported her department decided not to move forward with a tax sale in 2020 at the recommendation of the county attorney. The sale will be postponed to June 2021. The treasurer’s office sent courtesy notices to residents after seeing an increase of unpaid taxes. Currently, the county only has 1.3% of uncollected taxes, approximately $300,000.

Mindy Fitzgibbon, the county recorder, said her office similarly saw “record transfers on off-road and boats, those sorts of things.”

“There are lots of new machines out there,” she said.

Fitzgibbon noted real estate transfers have seen an uptick due to lowered interest rates, which have encouraged homeowners to refinance mortgages.

Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin said her department is working to get students immunized through clinics. With school closings, public health was not able to go into schools to give seventh and 12th-graders TDAP or meningococcal vaccines. The department will hold an all-day clinic on July 6 and July 14 “to try to get everybody back up to fully immunized.”

Van Dorin said the county saw three new positive COVID-19 cases in the last two days.

“Now, Iowa is kind of a hot spot. Not our county, but we have a little bit more than we normally do,” Van Dorin said.

During the pandemic, the Henry County Jail saw its first farmed-in prisoners, Sheriff Rich McNamee reported.

“We started with a Jackson County inmate … We now have inmates from three other venues around the state, and we’re collecting a little bit of revenue,” McNamee said.

The Sheriff Office’s call volume “went to the basement” for about eight weeks, before picking up again in June.

“The last month has been a zoo, and I anticipate the rest of the summer will continue to be a zoo,” McNamee added.

His office has seen a “really high uptick” in car crashes as well. The sheriff recalled a recent car wreck from which two people were ejected from a car that remained intact.

“Simply, if they had seatbelted in, they would have had scratches and bruises. Seat belts save lives — speed kills,” McNamee said.

He encouraged the public to obey traffic laws and use good judgment when on the road.