By JOSH VARDAMAN Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Tuesday evening was the second chance for Ottumwans to voice their opinion on the Fiscal Year 2015 Ottumwa City Budget.
Just like the previous public hearing about the budget, which was held before the City Council meeting on Nov. 19, no one took the stand to give an opinion. This was the last formal opportunity for community members to get in front of the City Council to say what they want to see included with the budget.
There will be two budget workshops on Jan. 23 and Feb. 10, 2014, in front of the next council, which begin at the turn of the new year. Public input is always accepted by city officials, and calls to City Hall regarding the budget are welcomed during City Hall hours.
Before the start of the City Council meeting, there was a meeting by the Ottumwa Board of Health regarding a property located at 158 S. Fellows St. Councilmembers voted unanimously to condemn the structure, meaning it will be demolished and removed, and the lot will be leveled.
The home on the property suffered fire damage almost two years ago and since the owner has been performing remodeling efforts. However, there have been many neighbor complaints about actions at the property, such as a pile of burnt objects that sat in front of the home for some time.
City officials originally gave the owner 60 days to complete the renovations at the home, but, approximately a year and a half later, very little has been done. The owner and his attorney asked City Council to grant them 30 more days to complete the renovations, but were denied.
After the Board of Health meeting, the regular meeting of City Council started. There was a lot on the agenda for the night, including the approval of the annual budget for the Ottumwa Water Works Board of Trustees for the 2014 calendar year.
Mike Heffernan, the Manager of Ottumwa Water Works, said the water rates for the city will increase by six and a half percent for next year, and could go up or down in the future. They will look at the rates each year and judge where they should be based on the projects taking place.
The reasoning behind the raise is the different programs in place, such as the ultraviolet treatment program that costs approximately two million dollars. There was a bad sample taken some years ago, Heffernan said, and because of that they have to continue to take a certain amount of samples to reach EPA standards.
Currently, they are working to replace the water meters throughout the city and are approximately 65 percent of the way done. Heffernan said they should all be replaced by late next year.
Some of the other items discussed were the disposing of city owned property located at 1228 Monroe Ave. The $6,500 bid by Mark Jansen was the one that was accepted for the property.
There was also a contract awarded to The Driller, LLC, of Pleasant Hill, for the Airport Force Main Replacement Project. The bid was placed at approximately $156,000, and was the best of the six that were received.
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