The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 6, 2013

City budget approved

City portion of property taxes decreasing, though state portion will likely increase

OTTUMWA — The city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year has been approved, though some councilmen wish the public would voice their concerns more openly at City Council meetings.

“As you know, from the very beginning, I’ve nit-picked this,” said Councilman J.R. Richards at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

He clarified that even though the city tax levy is decreasing .03579 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation, “it doesn’t mean necessarily that your taxes are going to go down, because the state raised the valuation of your properties.”

The state-imposed residential rollback will increase 2.0648 percent to 52.8166 percent, and taxable valuation will increase 1.25 percent from the previous valuation.

Councilman Jeremy Weller said he was “disheartened” that there has been barely any citizen input on the budget process during his years on council.

“Two of the biggest complaints I hear about day to day is taxes and streets, and yet we had one person [speak to the council],” Weller said. “We went out of our way to have budget work sessions, ask for public input and yet we don’t get any. You complain and you complain and you complain, we give you a chance to have some input and you don’t take the opportunity.”

Mayor Frank Flanders said the biggest complaint he hears from the public is the poor quality of the streets.

“With this budget ... we’re giving them a big increase in what we’re doing with streets,” Flanders said. “We’ve never spent this much money on streets.”

Finance Director Bob Jay said one of the biggest problems with tax increases in Ottumwa is the fact that the population is smaller than what property taxes dictate.

“The larger the base, the lower the taxes have to be because you have more people to draw from,” Jay said.

The city’s aging infrastructure is meant to support a city of 35,000, Flanders said.

“But we have a population 10,000 less than that now,” he said. “Our infrastructure is aging, but we still need to keep it maintained.”

Flanders said every effort has been made in recent years by former mayor Dale Uehling, city department heads and staff to not increase taxes.

“I know not a single member of this council, and I know I don’t want any increase in taxes if we can avoid it,” Flanders said. “Staff and the council has done due diligence in looking out for the public. I hate to increase property taxes; I believe property tax is a regressive tax and others are more justly levied than property taxes because it hurts low-income people the most. But cities need it to survive because of the way a city is financially set up.”

The city’s regular levy will take in $125,000 more next fiscal year than it is in the current fiscal year. But that's balanced over several different levies, Jay said.

“For example, in the general fund, total revenue is $13 million,” Jay said. “Of that, $5 million is from property taxes. What we’re doing is leveraging other revenues in different programs as much as we possibly can to keep the property tax levy down to a reasonable amount.”

The City Council also approved an Employee Assistance Program agreement, which will provide mental health services through the Southern Iowa Mental Health Center for those employees whose mental health problems are affecting their job performance.

The program will be funded through a “fringe benefit portion,” Jay said. City Attorney Joni Keith said she’s only ever had one individual utilize the program, “but it was very helpful, and the employee was very successful.”

Broadband expert Craig Settles also presented a brief overview of the broadband/fiber optic study he’s worked on alongside the Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation. A thorough overview of the initiative and his findings will appear in the Courier's Thursday edition.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Calendar Groups wanting to be included in the Calendar must submit the item every time the group meets, at least three days in advance of the meeting.Send information to Calendar, Newsroom, Ottumwa Courier, 213 E. Second St., Ottumwa 52501 or send email to ne

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Resolution — Techel verdict reached

    DAVENPORT — The father of a slain Wapello County woman said he began to heal as soon as he heard the guilty verdict today. The jury unanimously pronounced Seth Techel, 23, guilty on charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a h

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook