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Ottumwa’s 2020 Audit shows “healthy” numbers, City Administrator looks to 2021

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:00 AM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - The fiscal year ended in June of 2020, and City Administrator Phil Rath says the city’s finances are in healthy shape: “You got your general fund, your utilities, Bridgeview Center, airport - all the different funds that we have, it trended up.”

A quarter of the fiscal year was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it didn’t really start to show its effects in Fiscal 2020. Rath says there’s a lagging effect. “The only area we really saw a negative impact [in this audit] was with Bridgeview Center...the events got shut down; there was no ability to take revenue in.”

But even for the 2021 year, Rath says Ottumwa won’t be seeing negative effects to the same degree of larger cities like Des Moines. He says, in March, Ottumwa was “anticipating numbers to go down, because people weren’t shopping as much or they didn’t have the funds, Ironically, the numbers actually went up. You have a lot of people in the community that we already buying necessities. So they were till buying those same necessities, but instead of going to Des Moines or Iowa City or other communities, they were doing most of their shopping local.”

And without the regular amount of travel, local gas stations also had more business.

For this upcoming fiscal year, the city’s looking at projects like revitalizing 10 different roads, as well as “updating the shower house at the campground, we’re looking at a new fire truck, a couple of different vehicles for the fleet. Things that are necessary to continue on the operations of the city.”

Ottumwa’s last few years saw its finances on a downward trend. Things have turned around now, and Rath says he’s working to keep those finances up: “The biggest challenge is the financial sustainability. Making sure that we can afford all the service that the community wants and needs.”

If you’re interested in taking a look at the audit, head to ottumwa.us/departments/finance. A link to the full document is located there.

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