OTTUMWA — Ottumwa Transit will not be taken over by 10-15 Transit, as the city rejected the proposal in favor of continuance of the current system.
City officials said the proposal did expose some things Ottumwa Transit could do better, and Mayor Tom Lazio said he believes that will happen. Lazio, who is also serving as interim city administrator said city staff “work with [Ottumwa Transit Director Dave] Silverio to ensure paratransit is much more flexible.”
The two transit groups had been unable to reach a memorandum of understanding as required by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The state wants to avoid paying two organizations from providing the same services in the same location, which was possible as Ottumwa Transit began planning to expand some services.
Lazio said 10-15 Transit will not be barred from Ottumwa, but will not be able to compete directly with Ottumwa Transit.
“We’re expanding, or getting funds to expand,” Silverio said. He urged people who are concerned about whether services are available to call Ottumwa Transit. “Talk to me. Let me see what I can do.”
There were concerns about whether Ottumwa Transit can have the structures and the vehicles in place to ensure it can pick up the slack with rides. Councilwoman Holly Berg said it is important that the city ensure services such as transportation to medical appointments are preserved for Ottumwa residents.
“We have a lot of people we just need to make sure aren’t blocked out,” Berg said.
Councilman Marc Roe also asked to clarity access to Medicare rides for Ottumwa residents.
“To be clear, that ability does exist now?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” Silverio replied.
Roe said the council will be watching. “I hope you do understand that you’re going to receive calls if you do have a gap.”
Council members heard from both Ottumwa Transit and 10-15 Transit a week ago in a meeting that was attended by a large audience. Those who spoke during that meeting largely sided with Ottumwa Transit.
Council members also got a preview of a major expense that is on the horizon. City Engineer Dwight Dohlman said the boiler at City Hall will soon need replacement.
“We’ll get through this winter, maybe next winter,” Dohlman said, but it is going to need to be replaced.
News of the pending replacement came as part of a brief summary of an energy efficiency report. The effort looked at a number of issues, including multiple city buildings.
No action is planned in the immediate future, especially given that the city is currently in the process of assembling the Fiscal 2021 budget. But the council did authorize staff to begin assembling data so they can assess the needs and begin planning for the upgrades at city facilities.