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
  • Victim advocates: Helping families cope DAVNPORT — Family members of a slain Wapello County woman have someone to lean on — literally and figuratively — while they sit through a murder trial for the third time. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges of fi

    July 24, 2014

  • 0725 OTT Five Things logo -L -T Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — There's a wide variety of activities to choose from this weekend in southeast Iowa. Get out and explore the countryside, find some new books to curl up with or help raise money for some great causes. The choice is yours — pick one or attend

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Jury begins deliberations DAVENPORT — The fate of a Wapello County man accused of killing his wife is in the hands of a jury in Scott County, which began deliberations Wednesday and will continue deliberating today.The jury began deliberations about 4 p.m. Wednesday in the ca

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Van Buren says bye-bye to Waste Management KEOSAUQUA — Waste Management has been charging the Van Buren Community School District an average of nearly $1,600 a month to remove waste and recycled materials from the Douds and Keosauqua centers. Now faced with a bidding process, Waste Management

    July 23, 2014

  • Prosecution: All evidence points to Techel as killer DAVENPORT — Just as all roads lead to Rome, so all evidence points to a Wapello County man accused of killing his wife, according to the prosecution. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Prosser, who is prosecuting the case for the third time, said defe

    July 23, 2014

  • Pesticide use is not all bad OTTUMWA — When you pick up a grocery ad, it seems like every other page has a produce item stamped USDA Organic, meaning that those items were spared from chemicals including Glyphosate, the most common pesticide in the world. As the Organic Food Mov

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Kitchen Science color photo -L -T Kitchen science sparks curiosity OTTUMWA — A lucky group of children spent Wednesday morning experimenting with kitchen science and creating geysers of foam at the Knights of Columbus hall. The Kitchen Science performance was presented by Waterloo's Grout Museum and is part of the O

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Making something of themselves OTTUMWA — Community leaders this week heard how Ottumwa's Job Corps started from nothing yet became successful. But they also heard from students who said they were doing nothing until they found success through Job Corps. "After I dropped out of hig

    July 23, 2014

  • New charges filed in abuse case OTTUMWA — A single charge against a man for sexual abuse has been replaced by a new trial information, and authorities are throwing the book at him. Grant Troxel was initially charged in early June with sexual abuse. But the new list of charges indic

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724 OTT car investigation color photo -L Tip led to Tuesday arrest OTTUMWA — There was more to the incident Tuesday in which officers surrounded a car near U.S. Bank in downtown Ottumwa than just a routine traffic stop. Police Chief Tom McAndrew said Jason Tobek, 36, is in custody and faces charges of interference w

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook