OTTUMWA — Public safety costs continue to eat into the city’s general fund balance, but authorities think they may have a way to offset a handful of costs.

Fire Chief Steve O’Connor came to the city council several weeks ago with a proposal to begin a system of fees for some services the fire department performs. The fees, for items like cleanup at an accident site, would be billed to insurance companies rather than individuals.

It’s not absolutely clear how much the fees would bring in, especially since not every driver whose accident triggers the fees would have insurance. O’Connor told the council those cases would essentially result in no fee.

But council members were interested enough for staff to bring back the issue at a work session for further study.

Only one other item is on Monday’s agenda, but it’s a big one. Council members are set to discuss the combined sewer overflow project, also called the sewer separation project.

When complete, the project will separate the south side’s septic and storm water sewers. The move effectively increases the capacity of the septic system, should end backups into homes and businesses and allows the city to close a number of combined sewer overflows. Those overflows relieve pressure in the system by dumping directly into the lagoons in Ottumwa Park and into the Des Moines River during rains.

The direct flow of untreated sewage into waterways raises concerns for the state department of natural resources. The city must eventually end the practice. The work will take years, though.

Monday’s review is of the first phase of the project and the design for phase two.

The work session takes place at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall. It will be broadcast live on GOTV, cable channel 6.

Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at

Work Session

When: 4:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Council chambers at City Hall

What: Fire service fees and combined sewer update.


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