Are counties obsolete? With large cities growing and small rural towns often dwindling, Iowa’s 99 counties still have a vital role in providing “people services.” Iowa State Association of Counties Executive Director Bill Peterson says we often hear the call to cut down the number of counties in Iowa, but there’s value in having 99.There are lots of governments, but counties play a big regional role because he says they have financial capacity to deal with things. He says the county-seat town’s a business anchor in a way, and the local courthouse also serves as a business “magnet” for a town. Peterson says health, social services and county roads are all vital services only Iowa’s county governments provide. Peterson says the counties are grappling with the effect of state budget-cuts, though their options are limited since it’s the middle of their fiscal year.He says they’ll have to use reserve funds to make up for the loss in state funding or put off spending they’d planned. There are about 950 public-health nurses, county engineers, recorders, auditors, sheriffs and other county officials attending the ISAC event. It’s the organization’s 58th annual Fall School of Instruction and Policy Setting conference, and wraps up Friday.
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