New conference room for Marion County Attorney

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The conference room for the Marion County Attorney's Office. (photo by Steve Woodhouse)

In another round of repurposing space inside the Marion County Courthouse, the former Board of Supervisors’ office on the southeast end of the first floor is now a conference room for the County Attorney’s Office. Furnishing the space has put no additional expense on taxpayers.

“I’m grateful to the Board of Supervisors for giving us the space,” Marion County Attorney Ed Bull said. “I know how important space is in the courthouse.”

Several County offices changed location in the past few years. Before the most recent moves, the conference room was the location of the Assistant County Attorneys’ office. Now, all staff of the County Attorney’s Office are located on the fourth floor.

The adjoining space beside the conference room – the former Board of Supervisors’ meeting room – now houses the collections officer for the County.

Bull is glad to have his staff in a more central location. He said it benefits morale and office safety.

As for the conference room, the space was empty for a while. It will benefit the County by providing a permanent location to take depositions, hold meetings and teleconference with others. A television was expected to be installed on July 11, which will also allow for easy viewing of video, enlarged photos and other digital evidence. Many of today’s elements of case discovery are digital. Before the conference room, the office had to ask the City of Knoxville to use its council chambers or the Sheriff’s Office to use the EOC room at the law enforcement center to record depositions.

No cost to taxpayers

Marion County is credited for collecting approximately $417,000 in past due court fines, fees, etc., the State of Iowa is owed in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Iowa allows County Attorney’s Offices to collect this money for a portion of the proceeds. The alternative collection agency for the State is a Texas-based law firm.

Under the provision that gives the office the ability to collect past-due fines, the first $100,000 collected goes to the State. Anything collected on top of that amount is divided among the State (62 percent), County (30 percent) and the County Attorney’s Office that is collecting (6 percent).

“For fiscal year 2018-19, we collected enough money that the position of collector was paid for while receiving an additional $30,000 between the County and County Attorney’s Office,” Bull said.

The conference room table, chairs, television and any other furnishings were paid from that extra $30,000. In addition, the office will be able to cover expenses for equipment and training. Bull and Pella Police Officer Wolf will attend a conference in August the learn more about the psychology of school shootings.

Bull said the only complaints received regarding the collection program have come from convicted criminals. Convicted criminals, who are given months to pay their debts to the State before collections begin, are the only people contacted by the County’s collector.