The Ottumwa Courier

November 3, 2012

Ottumwa police to begin restructuring department

Creation of downtown police officer to follow elimination of parking attendant, retirement of lieutenant

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Police Department is undergoing restructuring, meaning a parking attendant will be eliminated and a retiring lieutenant’s position will not be filled in order to create the new position of downtown police officer.

Ottumwa Police said to properly patrol and combat crime in the downtown area, they need to create the new downtown officer position.

The Ottumwa City Council will vote to approve the department restructuring at its Tuesday meeting.

A part-time downtown area parking attendant’s position will be eliminated. The position was extremely limited, according to police, since the person was not a certified police officer and could not apprehend criminals and enforce city ordinances.

A current certified sworn police officer will be assigned the downtown officer position.

The officer will patrol the downtown and Church Street business districts, apprehend criminals and offenders, enforce vehicle and traffic laws, deter crime by being a visible presence in these business districts, perform public relations activities with business owners, employees and customers in the area, as well as enforce parking ordinances.

This position will also be utilized to fill in for other police officers and respond as backup to other incidents around the city.

Currently, the city has three police lieutenants: Lt. Tom McAndrew, Lt. Mickey Hucks and Lt. Mike McDonough, one of whom will be retiring in December 2013. That position will also be eliminated at that time.

The city will fund the new downtown officer position through the immediate elimination of the parking attendant’s position and the lieutenant’s position upon retirement.

McAndrew currently serves as operations division commander, while Hucks serves as services division commander. Operations includes patrol, drug task force and investigations. Services includes community policing, records and dispatch and administration.

Urban renewal

The council will also vote to approve a new Urban Renewal Report for fiscal year 2011-12. Effective July 1 with the passing of House File 2460, each levy authority must file an annual Urban Renewal Report by Dec. 1 of the calendar year for the preceding fiscal year.

The report provides information to the Department of Management on all of the activities taking place in the various Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts in the state.

The city’s two TIF districts in fiscal year 2012 — Westgate and Airport — saw $766,879 and $272,413 in tax revenues, respectively.

The report provides information on all of the activities and the total debt, including interest, that will be charged to the TIF districts currently and in the future.

Failure to approve this report would result in the city being unable to publish and adopt its yearly budget.

Finance Director Bob Jay said the city is restricted by law that if money is requested from a TIF district, it must be paid back in projects in the area. The city is also restricted in what types of projects it can do, which usually center around blight and economic development in Ottumwa.

“We use it for poor sewers, streets that are broken down or deteriorated,” Jay said. “The economic development portion is support for OEDC or the Downtown Beautification Program.”

Consolidation of mechanics

The city’s public works department will also seek council approval to consolidate its mechanics and Ottumwa Transit’s mechanics under one department.

Currently, Ottumwa Transit has two mechanics, who will be transferred to public works and will be subject to the Teamsters collective bargaining agreement.

Donald Sanders, the current garage foreman, would become a supervisor of all mechanics and would no longer be subject to the collective bargaining agreement. His foreman position would remain open under the agreement, though the city has no plans to fill that position.

Transit Executive Director Diane Gawronski said her department’s two mechanics will be part of the public works department on paper, though they will remain at the transit facility to continue servicing the vehicles.

“I’m not against it, but it was not our decision. What I heard is that people were talking about this about nine months ago, and it got put on hold,” Gawronski said. “It’s to better observe economies of scale.”

Also on the council’s agenda:

• Approval of an agreement between the city and Calhoun-Burns & Associates, Inc. for engineering for the Market Street Bridge Deck Replacement Project. The city will be using federal-aid funding through the Highway Bridge Program with a cap of $1 million. Preliminary cost of this project is estimated at $3.07 million.

• Approval of the nearly $44,000 purchase of upgraded components for the police department’s in-car digital video recording system. This would complete the second phase of the upgrade.

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall. The meeting will air live on GO-TV, cable channel 6.