Tuesday Afternoon News, Feb. 26
Two Le Mars Real Estate Companies Decide To Merge
(Le Mars) -- Two local real estate companies have announced plans to merge their businesses. Property Pros, under the direction of Lisa Wagner and Jim Gergeni and Linda Mayrose Real Estate all of Le Mars will now combine to work under the name of Property Pros. Mayrose and her agents will be joining the Property Pros group to expand the company's market presence and vision to provide extensive professional real estate services. Mayrose says about the merger that it is the "best of the best", adding that she will be able to concentrate on the part of real estate she loves, the listing and selling and giving extra special care to clients. Property Pros will move to the Linda Mayrose Real Estate building at 41 Central Avenue Northwest to accommodate the increased agent roster.
Waterloo School Board Approves Teacher Early Retirement Plan
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Across the state, the Waterloo Community Schools board has approved an early retirement incentive that's already been offered to 115 teachers.
The board voted final approval on Monday.
The incentive is aimed at helping cut the budget for the next school year.
If 65 to 80 teachers were to retire, the district could save up to $1.6 million. Officials estimate a savings of $20,000 per teacher as experienced teachers are replaced with less experienced
Teachers must be at least 55 and have 13 years of service in the district to qualify for the incentive. They would receive an annual supplemental benefit of $10,000 for three years after retiring at
the end of the current contract year.
School Districts Concerned Over Affordable Healthcare Act
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Hundreds of Iowa school districts are figuring out what the Affordable Health Care Act will mean to their part-time employees.
The law taking effect in 2014 will force nearly all of Iowa's 348 school districts to extend health insurance benefits to part-timers who work more than 30 hours a week or reduce hours so
those employees wouldn't qualify for benefits. Districts also could opt to be fined for not providing required benefits.
Most school districts employ a number of part-time employees, such as teacher aides, cooks and bus drivers.
Galen Howsare, of the Iowa Association of School Boards, says officials are seeking more information, "but all districts will be affected in some way."
Spending Cuts May Hurt Iowa National Guard
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he's concerned about how automatic federal budget cuts could impact military spending in Iowa.
During an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Branstad noted that defense will take a hit in the state if Congress doesn't act on a deficit reduction agreement by Friday. Without action in
Washington, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect nationally from March through September. That could mean lost funding for the state national guard, as well as other military functions in the
state such as recruiters, engineers and support staff.
Branstad says, "I'm worried about national defense. It takes the biggest hit."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense said the automatic cuts mean that about 1,500 civilian military employees in the state could also be furloughed.
Branstad Doesn't Want To Expand Medicaid
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he feels positive about a meeting with federal officials where he delivered the message that he does not plan to expand Medicaid in Iowa.
During a Tuesday press conference, Branstad called his Friday meeting in Washington with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "cordial." He says he does not want to expand
Medicaid, but pressed Sebelius for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a health care program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low income adults in the state. That program is set to
expire later this year.
Branstad says Iowa will soon provide a full proposal for extending IowaCare.
Critics of Branstad's plan say expanding Medicaid would provide more services to a larger number of people. But Branstad calls an expansion unaffordable.
Computer Hacker May Have Compromised Social Security Accounts
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Officials say a hacker may have gotten Social Security numbers and other personal information on county employees by accessing an Internet-based tool used for the Cerro
Gordo County bank account.
County Treasurer Pat Wright told the Mason City Globe Gazette (http://bit.ly/X8dpWt ) on Monday that security safeguards prevented the hacker from stealing any money from the account.
Wright says the hacker gained access to the county's account with Shazam, an Internet-based tool used to create automatic payments and withdrawals.
Officials say 230 of the county's 250 employees have direct deposit of their paychecks through Shazam.
Wright has sent a letter to county employees and about 100 entities that do business with the county, telling them their bank account numbers, bank routing numbers and Social Security numbers
may have been compromised.