OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa City Council will meet in a special session today at City Hall to discuss the city's rental inspection policy during the time of COVID-19.

The city had delayed rental inspections and worked on a limited basis as the city closed its public buildings twice because of the pandemic, though the planning and zoning department continued to respond to emergencies or complaints.

In a staff summary to the council, planning and zoning director Kevin Flanagan said the city is approximately 650 units behind on rental inspections. The city has once again begun inspections, but any further delays could include a larger backlog, as well as potential neglect by some landlords to meet the safety burden of inspections.

The city is concerned about a potential moratorium on inspections, which, over a six-month period, could cause the city to fall behind by just under 2,000 units, based on an average of six rental inspections per officer over that timeframe.

If a moratorium is established, inspectors would still be inspecting unoccupied units, units where there is a complaint, newly built units and units being modified that include a permit.

City planner Zach Simonson sent an email to the city staff about the approach surrounding communities have taken. Burlington, Clinton, Iowa City, Coralville, Fort Dodge and Marshalltown have all resumed inspections after suspending them, while Johnston and Urbandale won't resume until April 12.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be streamed live on the city's YouTube page.

Wapello County Board of Supervisors

The supervisors will likely decide what path of action to take regarding raises for the county's elected officials during today's meeting at the courthouse.

Last week, they discussed the county compensation board's recommendations for salaries for fiscal year 2021-22. The compensation board recommended double-digit percentage increases for all elected officials but the supervisors to bring the county more in line with other counties of similar population and state averages, claiming the officials are underpaid for the services provided.

The supervisors agreed to cut 85% from the proposed increases, meaning the auditor, attorney, recorder, treasurer and sheriff would all see an increase between 2% and 3%, with the supervisors getting a raise of 0.5%.

According to numbers from the Iowa Association of Counties for fiscal year 2021, Wapello County spent $374,647 on elected officials' salaries, the only county of four others closest in population (Marion, Sioux, Webster and Lee) to not exceed $430,000.

The supervisors are expected to make a decision on either accepting the compensation board's recommendations, or their own. New salaries would kick in July 1.

The supervisors will also set Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. for public hearings regarding the fire alarm upgrade, the maximum levy notice for the next fiscal year as well as Iowa Pork Production, LLC.

The weekly meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. and can be viewed on the supervisors' YouTube page.

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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