The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

August 14, 2013

City election ballot filling up fast

(Continued)

He referred to the council's recent decision not to extend the amount of time a citizen can speak at a meeting to five minutes.

He also wants to make sure the city stays on course with its sewer separation project and street repair program, devoting the majority of the Local Option Sales Tax revenues to both.

"One of my other goals for council is to maintain the level of services citizens are getting from the city and look for ways to expand those services ... public safety, police and fire, the protections the city right now enjoys," he said.

But more needs to be done in terms of economic development, he said.

"When I was a trucker, when I see these bypasses come in, it seems like automatically what follows is growth along the bypass, and I'm not seeing that here and I don't understand why," he said. "Maybe we need to look at whether we're receptive enough for new business. I thought by now we would see some sort of development out there."

Skip Stevens

Stevens knows the ins and outs of the city with 45 years of experience in water pollution control, public works and engineering. He retired in 2006 but said a lot of people have come up to him and asked him to run for council due to his knowledge and experience.

As the former superintendent of public works for 11 years, Stevens oversaw the traffic, electrical, sewer, streets and mechanics departments.

"I think Ottumwa needs a long-range vision," he said. "They've had comprehensive plan meetings in the past, but it just seems like they're not followed."

The city needs to broaden its tax base, he said, and more affordable housing would help.

"It's been talked about for years but it doesn't seem to go anywhere," he said. "So many times I've seen developers come to City Hall and say they want to build 20, 40 houses. The city says they have to put their own sewer, streets and utilities in. That's a deterrent to developers because it drives the cost up. If the city would participate and install some of the infrastructure, the developers would build homes and the taxes from those homes would way more than pay for the investment."

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