Main Street SSMID.jpg

OTTUMWA — Area soccer, baseball and softball players, along with the YMCA, will be playing under new leases for the next two years if the city council approves them next week.

The leases cover girls’ softball, adult softball, adult soccer, YMCA youth sports, Babe Ruth and Ottumwa Little League baseball, the American Legion and Ottumwa High School sports played in the city’s parks. The leases are broadly similar, though there are a few variations.

Each of the leases covers Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021. Each is for $10, with the exceptions of adult soccer, which is $10 per year, and Little League, which is $20. Four of the leases, covering girls’ softball, Ottumwa High School, Babe Ruth and adult softball, also have a $500 fee for covering the cost of electricity for lighting.

The leases were approved Nov. 12 by the Ottumwa Parks Advisory Board and are part of the council’s consent agenda. Consent agenda items are voted on en masse at the beginning of the meeting, and are items that rarely draw dissenting votes.

The city is also expected to take a major step toward the self-supported municipal improvement district, or SSMID, for downtown Ottumwa.

Such districts are not unusual in Iowa, but this is Ottumwa’s first foray into such an approach to financing. SSMID districts rely on additional revenue from property owners within the districts, and that money can only be used within those districts.

Ottumwa’s district overlays the Main Street district and is divided into 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.

Estimates from last November, when the district was first proposed, suggested the district would bring in about $30,000. It’s a substantial boost for Main Street Ottumwa, which will receive the money, but modest in comparison to the costs for many projects. The city approved creation of the district in February.

SSMID revenues can be used for three broad categories: maintenance and cleaning of public areas, marketing and business retention, and physical improvements within the district.

Since the city holds the money, its release to Main Street requires council action. The agreement states revenues produced by the SSMID “must be allocated to Main Street Ottumwa to be used for SSMID projects approved by the City Council.” Five annual grants are planned, with payment due “on or before July 15 of each fiscal year” beginning in 2021.

Each grant covers the previous year’s funds received by the city.

Tuesday’s council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

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