OTTUMWA — The city’s trails network will soon include a new segment along Milner Street designed to both connect people to existing trails and provide a safe route for children headed to school.

The section runs from Mary Street to the north to Richmond Avenue at the south end. When complete, the trail will be 8 feet wide and 4,150 long. It won’t directly cost the city anything.

The cost should be a bit more than $377,000. A transportation alternatives program (TAP) grant from the state will cover 80 percent of the funding. The local 20 percent match, which comes to about $75,400, is being provided by Wapello County Trails.

As part of the city’s formal trails network, it will be up to the city to keep it clear after snow falls.

“That’s almost a mile of walk,” said Councilman Skip Stevens. “Which department is going to be responsible for that?”

“That would fall under the parks department,” replied Public Works Director Larry Seals. “The thing about that is it’s very similar to the one we put along the hospital corridor. … We can put heavier equipment on it.”

That’s not the only transportation work coming up for the city.

Plans for reconstruction of a section of Ottumwa Street offers an example of how street planning is taking the upcoming sewer separation into account. The work is on an area 430 feet long and includes full reconstruction of the road near the new Washington Apartment Complex. In fact, the developer contributed $45,000 for the work.

In addition to the road itself, the work includes installation of four intakes and a new storm sewer line that will connect to the upcoming sewer separation Phase IV project.

Bids for the project, which has an estimated cost of $276,6019, are due Feb. 25. Work should begin in the early spring and take 35 working days. The Ottumwa Waterworks will reimburse the city for $68,500 in costs associated with installation of a new water main.

The city council also approved an increase in the maximum property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year, but an increase is not yet assured.

The maximum rate for the current fiscal year is $19.13072. The council’s action this week raised it by 1.33 percent, or about 30 cents. Increases in the cost of employee benefits and the debt service levy were cited as reasons for the increase.

But setting the maximum and setting the actual budget are two different things. Finance Director Kala Mulder said the city may come in lower.

“We hope that before certifying the budget we will be closer to our current rate than what you are adopting tonight as the maximum rate,” she said.

The maximum does not include some important levies, including those for debt service, the library, etc. The total levy comes to $23.13788.

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

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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