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OTTUMWA — The mechanism for funding the downtown SSMID district is in place following the city council’s approval of an agreement that formalizes the process.

The decision was part of an unusually short meeting for the council. Meetings frequently take 60-90 minutes, but this one sped by in less than a half-hour. That’s less time than the original discussion of the district took.

The SSMID, or self-supported municipal improvement district, is a funding mechanism that will help funnel money to Main Street Ottumwa through a variable tax on properties within the district. The district has three zones. Property owners in Zone 1 pay an additional $1 per $1,000 taxable assessment on their properties. Zone 2 is $2, and Zone 3 collects $3. That money is collected by the city as part of the property taxes.

Money raised by the tax is available only for improvements within the district. Estimates put the total amount at around $30,000 for the district’s first year.

Getting the money from the city’s accounts to Main Street Ottumwa is the trick. “The agreement allows the allocation of the tax levied funds to be transferred,” City Attorney Joni Keith said.

Under the agreement, Main Street Ottumwa will present the city with a list of projects it hopes to fund with the SSMID dollars. The council can then approve the request. The ultimate decision on the release of funds is up to the council members, but the money cannot legally be spent elsewhere.

The brief meeting also included a warning about code enforcement from Mayor Tom Lazio. Lazio, acting as city administrator, said the city will push harder on repeat offenders.

“I have asked our police department to be more assertive. If we have people who keep getting ticketed several times we’re going to start towing vehicles,” he said. “We’re not going to keep giving tickets; they don’t seem to care much about them.”

Lazio also said the city will end the contract with Polco, which allowed the city to send out surveys on a mobile platform.

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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