County considers sale of farmland

Is it finally time for the county to sell the farm?

That’s the issue brought up by the Marshall County Board of Supervisors regarding farmland that has been owned by the county since the 1860s.

The supervisors discussed Tuesday the possibility of selling 230 acres the county owns in the vicinity of the county jail east of State Center. The county would then use the more than $2 million in proceeds to help pay for bridge replacement on the North Center Street bridges.

“Land prices are without a doubt at an all-time high in the state of Iowa,” said Dave Thompson, chair of the supervisors

The county currently rents out the acreage and receives $100,000 annually from the cash rent.

Two county elected officials – Auditor Dawn Williams and Treasurer Jarret Heil – warned the supervisors to tread lightly with this decision.

“I have serious concerns about losing that income,” Williams said.

Heil said the land is an asset for Marshall County.

The county received the land to operate the county home for the less fortunate and those with special needs. The land is now near the county jail.

Rural State Center resident Ron Goecke, a former county supervisor, said the supervisors thought about selling the land eight years ago. The supervisors at the time didn’t sell it due to the fact they didn’t have a major project to use the money towards, Goecke said.

“This may be the time if you are going to sell it,” Goecke said.

The current supervisors seemed encouraged by the feedback they got from county staff and the public as they make their decision in the future.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” said supervisor Deane Adams.