The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 8, 2011

City takes away OTA’s autonomy

Council agrees to immediate action

OTTUMWA — Rarely does it come about that the Ottumwa City Council immediately passes and adopts an amendment to a city ordinance.

Rarely does an ordinance change have such an immediate need as did Tuesday’s change to the city’s municipal code involving the Ottumwa Transit Authority. Citing a need to have a controlling structure in place, the city passed the first consideration of the ordinance amendment changing the management and control of the city’s transit program.

The council also approved waiving of the normal second and third readings. As such, the city will take over direct control, supervision, maintenance and operation of the transit system.

“It is absolutely mandatory that this be done as a condition to working with the state,” City Administrator Joel Helfenberger stated during the discussion of the agenda item on Tuesday. “They said this would be a ‘deal breaker’ if we do not do this.”

Helfenberger told the council on Tuesday that the action needed to be taken in a timely manner.

“We have a letter stating we need to be in compliance with the federal and state guidelines by no later then June 27 if we want to be in compliance,” Helfenberger added.

City attorney Joni Keith went through the guidelines of the changes that would be enacted with the unanimous approval of the ordinance that would be given by the council. The immediate changes would keep the basic structure of the transit program in place, but would make the Board of Transit Trustees an advisory board with input on management issues only, removing the board’s autonomy.

“The changes will remove the specific management and operation of that board to the city,” Caviness said. “They are pretty simple changes, but they will have profound results.”

Acting Ottumwa Transit Authority chairman Hanna Jo Kyhl told the City Council that the board of trustees only began to fully understand the seriousness of the situation facing the transit authority following the recent release of the state’s re-audit of OTA.

“These past few weeks have been very stressful on the board,” Kyhl said on Tuesday. “We have begun to tackle the difficult tasks that are ahead. I speak for the board when I say we are committed to providing the highest level of service available in strict compliance with the federal transit regulations.”

Kyhl stated that the board of trustees would comply with the council’s decision to take over control of the transit system.

“While our customers may find some changes to our service, we believe that we can find ways with the guidance of the Iowa Department of Transportation to provide many of the services in full compliance of the law.”

The decision approved by the council on Tuesday comes in the absence of an OTA director. Both acting director Pam Ward and operations manager Tom Jones were fired on Friday,  more than a week after a state audit alleged OTA inflated ridership numbers and changed employee time sheets in order to reduce pay.

The Iowa DOT had said it plans to not renew its contract with the OTA when it expires at the end of the month without significant changes. Without renewal, OTA would be cut off from federal funding.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0731 OTT Aviation plane -T -M Flying free OTTUMWA — The financial obstacle may have been removed if your career goal starts with learning to fly. "We have it set up for three terms, about nine months," said pilot and chief flight instructor Darren Graham at Indian Hills Community College. "

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supervisors discuss pipeline potential KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisors received preliminary, general information on a new pipeline being proposed to carry oil from North Dakota through Iowa, including Van Buren County, then crossing into Illinois. The proposed Bakken Pipeline wou

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairfield stabbing suspects' trials separated FAIRFIELD — The three people accused of dragging a man into a Fairfield apartment before robbing and stabbing him have had a judge grant their requests to separate their trials. Dawn Dunn, Dustin Roll and Brett Hedblade are each charged with willful

    July 30, 2014

  • Local business donates grain rescue tube KEOSAUQUA — Stockport Elevator, owned by Roquette America, donated a grain rescue tube to Birmingham and Stockport Fire Departments. A training session was conducted Monday, led by Dale Ekdahl, a representative of Outstate Data, LLC, the device’s man

    July 30, 2014

  • Where do my taxes go? OTTUMWA — Wapello County Board certified its tax levy. But what does that mean? Based on budgets submitted by various levying authors, the Wapello County Auditor prepares and certifies the levy rates for the county. Budgets for each levy are based on

    July 30, 2014

  • OCSD releases elementary supplies list

    OTTUMWA — For years, parents of the students in Ottumwa's elementary schools have had to check to make sure the school supplies list they grabbed was the right one for their school. No more.

    July 30, 2014

  • Reducing runoff at the local level AGENCY — Pollution isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you look out at a field of Iowa corn or soybeans, but there’s growing concern about what manages to get out of the fields and into the water. The same nutrients that benefit the crops c

    July 30, 2014

  • Supervisors wrestle with staffing woes KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisor Chairman Bob Waugh says he wants county supervisors to help alleviate staffing problems within the county treasurer’s office. In May, supervisors opted not to replace a vacancy within the treasurer’s office. Va

    July 30, 2014

  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • A changing roster -- for school board OTTUMWA — If the last time you saw your board of education was before Christmastime, the current school board might surprise you. Two members retired from the board: longtime educator Ron Oswalt stepped down, as did board president Carol Mitchell. Bo

    July 29, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook