AUBURN — DeKalb County Commissioners are sharpening their focus on their 2022 budget.

Wages for highway department workers and saving money for a future new jail were the topics at Monday’s meeting in the courthouse.

Highway superintendent Ben Parker received permission to advertise for applicants to fill two job openings in his department.

“Locating employees is going to be very challenging for us,” Parker predicted. He said it will be hard to compete with wages being offered by other employers.

“The council’s aware that they’re going to have to give this serious consideration,” Commissioner Mike Watson said about wages for the highway department.

The DeKalb County Council would have to approve higher wages for highway workers.

“I think the new facility’s going to help us with morale for employees,” said Commissioner Todd Sanderson.

Parker reported it is “looking pretty promising” that a soil study will show the county can build new structures at a proposed new site for the highway department, at the east edge of Waterloo, south of U.S. 6.

Commissioners also discussed earmarking $600,000 in next year’s budget for a fund saving money for a future new jail.

They will suggest the addition in their 2022 budget proposal that must be approved by the County Council later this summer.

The money would come from the county’s Local Income Tax for Economic Development, known as LITED.

The county’s jail savings fund already holds $600,000 contributed by the commissioners in the previous two years.

“Instead of raising taxes, I see it as a better alternative,” Commissioners President Bill Hartman said about making the contribution from LITED.

Last week, the County County rejected a proposal to raise the county’s income tax rate for correctional facilities from 0.13% to 0.20%. The increase would have raised an estimated $750,000 to save toward a future jail.

Commissioners agreed to continue working on their budget proposal at their June 21 and June 28 meetings, at 1:30 p.m. each day.

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