Archive for the ‘Suggestions’ Category

Fan mail: Daniel Picha – Fountain City, WI

November 2, 2020

From: Daniel Picha <>
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2020 7:35 AM
To: Miller, Joel <>
Subject: Your Quote

Dear Mr. Miller,

So you have all those people working at the polling place? What about the grocery stores? It seems people have no problem at all standing in line to check out their groceries!

Stupid is as Stupid does! And you must be the head cheese of STUPID!

Daniel Picha

W585 Castlerock Ln

Fountain City, WI 54629

Voters, take care to make your ballots count

October 12, 2018


The good news is Linn County voters, clearly, are highly motivated to cast their ballots this fall.

So much so that when the Linn County Auditor’s Office sent out sample ballots to more than 90,000 registered voters, 489 people filled out that sample, apparently thinking it to be a real ballot. The word ‘sample’ scrawled across the ballot faded during printing. The mailing included an absentee ballot request form and a return envelope, prompting some to erroneously mail in the sample ballot.

Unfortunately, 44 of those returned samples lacked a return address, making it impossible for auditor’s staff to alert those voters of their mistake. We hope a series of media reports have reached those voters, who can still vote by traditional means. Sent-in samples have been shredded.

Now that the auditor’s office is in the midst of mailing and handling thousands of absentee ballots and requests, we agree with Auditor Joel Miller that another mailing alerting voters to the sample ballot issue could create more confusion.

This episode is a reminder that mistakes can cost voters their right to be heard.

Two years ago in Linn County, more than 3,000 requested absentee ballots never were returned. Among those returned, 180 voters failed to provide a signature.

Due to copyright laws, I cannot paste the entire editorial here.  To continue reading, go to and login  – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Why do Linn Supervisors skip their own meetings?

August 30, 2018

Why do Linn County Supervisors skip their own Board meetings? Because they can. And if the Supervisors could not attend their meetings by phone, their attendance might be worse. Or the meetings might be cancelled for lack of a quorum.

A five member Linn County Board of Supervisors (BOS) allows any two supervisors to be gone while the three remaining supervisors conduct a meeting. This is the same structure that allowed a former supervisor to miss a number of meetings to become the president of NACO, which ultimately led to her taking a full-time job with NACO.

I have never understood why anyone would schedule a BOS meeting knowing they had a conflict with it. There is no requirement to hold BOS meetings on Monday (9am), Tuesday (9am), and Wednesday (10am); and nothing forbids holding meetings on Thursdays and Fridays, or over the lunch hour, or in the afternoons, or after 5pm.

Congratulations to Supervisor Chairman Harris who attended 100% of the BOS meetings from 1/1/2018 – 8/31/2018. During that time period, Supervisors Walker and Oleson missed 16 of 97 meetings; and Rogers and Houser missed 7 and 6 meetings, respectively.

I have a suggestion: Reduce the number of meetings and/or schedule them when you can achieve 100% attendance. – Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

P.S. The Auditor’s Office has been tracking Board attendance since 1/1/2013 because the Auditor’s Office incurs costs every time the Board meets.

Copy of BOS Attendance.xlsx

Help wanted: Logo designers

September 25, 2017

A majority of Linn County’s Supervisors think our County logo is ugly. Probably, nobody notices … or cares, but when you’re spending other people’s money, it becomes a priority to redesign it.

So if logo design is your niche, then read the attached and get to work … and submit your design. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Logo Redesign Guidance & Requirements.pdf

Committee and liaison assignments by County Supervisor

June 8, 2017

According to TaxExemptWorld (4/23/2017), Linn County is home to 1,776 non-profits. The Linn County Board of Supervisors has an active role in over thirty non-profits and/or governmental organizations (see below list and attachment).

Should Supervisors be on the boards of directors (BoD) of local non-profits? Should the County be donating tax dollars to those non-profits? Does having a Supervisor on a non-profit’s BoD give that non-profit an advantage over any other non-profit?

If I was a Supervisor, I would try to avoid being on the BoD of any non-profit. That does not mean that I would not belong to any non-profit, e.g., Rotary, but I would not be on the BoD of my Rotary Club. Agree or disagree? –Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

CR/Linn County Solid Waste Agency (3 yr term)
CR Metro Ec. All. Large Investor Council
Corrections – 6th Judicial (3 yr term)
Corridor Metropolitan Planning Org. (BOS term)
Early Childhood Iowa Board
ECICOG (3 yr term)
MEDCO (District IV Supervisor)
Public Art Commission
Public Health Board
Transportation Policy Committee
Area Ambulance (2 yr term)
E-911 Service Board (b)
Housing Fund for Linn County
Workforce Development CEO Board
ASAC (rotate annually)
Continuum of Care
Emergency Management Agency (EMA)
Heritage Agency on Aging
Legislative – State
Local Homeless Coordinating Board
MH/DS of the East Central Region Governing Brd.
Academy for Scholastic & Personal Success
The Arc of East Central Iowa
Cedar Rapids Community Schools Foundation
Hawkeye Downs
Highway 30 Coalition
Linn County Fair Board
Linn County Gaming Commission
New Bo City Market Board
Prospect Meadows
Safe, Equitable, Thriving Comm. Commission
Selective Service Board
Trees Forever Board of Advisors

The attachment is an Excel file with an individual page/tab of committee and liaison assignments for each individual supervisor.

After you open the attached Excel file, you will see seven separate tabs at the bottom of the page. The first five tabs are the committee and liaison assignments for each individual supervisor; the sixth tab is all five board member committee and liaison assignment lists merged into one document; and the seventh tab is the Excel spreadsheet of committee and liaison assignments created at the beginning of the year.

2017 Board and Liaison Assignments by Supervisor.xlsx

Electronic payments v paper checks

May 23, 2017

On 8/1/1977, I went on active duty in the US Army and the Army ordered me to fill out a direct deposit form for my monthly paycheck. Fast forward 40 years and Linn County still pays some employees and vendors via paper check. The attachment represents what occurs when paper checks do not get cashed.

The law and/or the County’s contracts with the unions prevent us from requiring every employee to signup for electronic payments. And while the Board of Supervisors could create a policy whereby we only do business with vendors who accept electronic payments, they have not done so yet.

Does your employer require its vendors to accept electronic payments? If yes, when did they make it a requirement? Do you work for a government agency which has required its vendors to accept electronic payments? If yes, when did you make it a requirement? Within the last couple of years, a number of vendors have signed up for electronic payments; however, as the attachment indicates – not all. -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Put clients’ interests first

April 21, 2017

I clipped the except below from the Corridor Business Journal’s Morning Rush (4/20/2017).  For many years, I have used a Fee Only financial advisor to manage my personal investments and that advisor has always been required to put my interests ahead of his interests.

So I believe Attorney General Tom Miller is on the right tract to pursue getting this rule implemented and I support him in his effort.  -Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Iowa attorney general signs letter to lift ‘fiduciary rule’ delay

Iowa’s attorney general wants to speed up the process of implementing a rule that would require financial advisers to put clients’ best interests ahead of their own. Tom Miller is leading a group of eight Democrat attorneys general in urging the U.S. Department of Labor to lift its delay in implementing a rule that was set to take effect April 10, reports the Des Moines Business Record. The Obama-era “fiduciary rule” was delayed for 60 days to June 9 after President Donald Trump ordered the agency to review the rule to determine whether it would adversely affect Americans’ ability to gain access to retirement information and financial advice. In the letter to Acting Secretary of Labor Edward Hugley, the attorneys general said, “to the contrary, postponement of its application is costing investors tens of millions of dollars each day as advisors continue to give conflicted advice and the rule should be implemented without further delay.”

Board attendance records and meetings

April 14, 2017

About once a quarter, one or more members of the public request the Supervisors’ attendance records for their public Board meetings. As the Clerk to the Board of Supervisors, it is easy for my team to provide the records because we attend every Board meeting, publish the meeting minutes for every meeting, and video record every meeting. No one seems to get too excited about Board attendance and I am not trying to stir anything up with this post.

I am trying to be transparent and educate the public on the number of meetings and time spent at the Board meetings. And I wonder: Does the Board really need to meet three times per week? Would meeting attendance by the public increase if the informal session or formal session was held at 4pm or later in the day? Would the attendance of the Supervisors improve if they held less standing meetings? Could one of the Board’s direct reports takeover the Department Head meetings and provide regular updates to the Board?

A reduction in the number of Board meetings would likely lead to a reduction in the personnel costs associated with supporting those meetings, would likely result in a reduction in the cost of publishing the Board’s meeting minutes in the four local, official newspapers, would likely increase the percentage of meetings attended by the Board, and may even increase the public’s attendance at the meetings. The Board has been having three a week meetings for maybe decades. Is there a better way to govern? -Joel D Miller – Linn County Auditor – Educator

BOS Attendance.xlsx

Ambulance Services – Are you ready to pay?

September 7, 2016
Editor’s note:  On 3/21/2018, Linn County Supervisor John Harris announced that Wellmark and Area Ambulance had reached an agreement that would benefit Linn County’s employees.  Starting on 7/1/2018, Area Ambulance became an “in-network” provider of ambulance services.  This change in benefits reduced employee out-of-pocket costs for ambulance services by hundreds of dollars per event.  JDM 1/15/2020


Earlier this year, I had the good fortune of being helped by a professional crew of paramedics from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department and Area Ambulance, and transported in an ambulance to the hospital … all in a timely manner. Thank you!

A few weeks later, I had the bad fortune of receiving a bill for my out of pocket costs associated with my ambulance ride, i.e., my out of pocket cost with insurance was over $1,000.oo In Linn County, only two ambulance service providers are in-network providers for Wellmark, i.e., the Hiawatha Fire Department and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Ambulance Service. Those two providers are not viable service providers outside of their service areas.

One solution is for the County’s insurance administrator – Wellmark – to negotiate with the ambulance service providers within the County to obtain discounts for all of the residents of the County. Another solution could be for County and/or other large employers to negotiate a contract with one or more of the ambulance service providers. I have suggested both solutions to the Linn County Board of Supervisors (BOS) in an effort to encourage them to address the issue on behalf of the County’s employees. To date and to my knowledge, the only action taken is the email below from Linn County Human Resources.

Today, at the BOS meeting, I once again asked the BOS to initiate contract talks with local ambulance service providers because I do not want employees being motivated by out of pocket cost considerations to avoid taking ambulances when they should be taking an ambulance. I volunteered to initiate the contract talks with the ambulance providers on behalf of the BOS, if the BOS does not want to initiate contract talks with the ambulance providers.

Out of network providers of ambulance services could charge you whatever they choose when they are not under a contact with your employer and/or your insurance administrator. And unlike the cost of epipens, the cost ambulance services could double or triple without notice – and you will incur a cost for those services – and you will not know about your out of pocket costs until after you have used the services.

What is your employer doing to control the costs of ambulance services for its employees?

Joel D Miller, Auditor

Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2016 2:41 PM
To: !!Everyone – Countywide
Subject: Ambulance Services

Please share with employees who do not have access to email.

All area ambulance services are not created equal at least when it comes to whether they participate in Wellmark’s network or not.

Attached is a list of In-Network Ambulance Providers within a 50-mile radius of Cedar Rapids. An In-Network Provider is required to write off the provider savings and accept the insurance allowed amount as settlement. The member is responsible for the deductible and coinsurance to the provider.

Out-of-Network Providers do not write-off provider savings and the member is invoiced this amount as the billed charge (plus deductible and coinsurance). This creates an additional liability to the member referred to as Balance Billing. The Out-of-Network Ambulance providers within a 50-mile radius are:

Fairbank Fire Department, Buchanan County

Stanwood Ambulance Service, Cedar County

Clarence Community Ambulance Association, Cedar County

Town of Colesburg, Delaware County

Oxford Junction Volunteer Ambulance, Jones County

Area Ambulance, Linn County

Center Point Urbana Ambulance Inc, Linn County

Attached is an Ambulance Claim Payment sample comparing the difference in payment between an In-Network Provider and Out-of-Network Provider. Members can discuss a balance billed amount with their provider.

This is not a NEW arrangement, however, it has come to our attention recently that not all employees were aware of the cost difference depending on the Provider used.

If you have questions, feel free to contact our office at 892-5120.

Ambulance Email.pdf

Ambulance – Payment Example.pdf

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