Ottumwa City Staff hears ARPA recommendations from outgoing council

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 10:21 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - It’s the last meeting for three of Ottumwa City Council members and two-term mayor Tom Lazio. The meeting started with the swearing in of new council members Cara Galloway, Russ Hull, and Doug McAntire, as well as Mayor-Elect Rick Johnson.

In just a few weeks, the new council will have to vote on the City spending American Rescue Plan funds. Ottumwa is receiving $3.6 million, paid in two $1.8 million payments.

With the last meeting for many of these City officials, they had a chance to share ideas on how to spend money. “With the hotel going in at Bridge View, I understand some of the money can be used for parking at Bridge View,” council member Bob Meyers suggested. Meyers announced his resignation soon after November’s City/School election. The Council appointed Russ Hull, who came in fourth in the election, to Meyers’ seat.

It’s added to the list of other items shared in the months since the City Administrator and Mayor held a town hall.

Ideas rolling around include broadband, improving Ottumwa’s parks, or mental health funding. In August, the City Administrator shared with KYOU he had a list over of 100 items.

However, there are some limits to how the funds can be spent. For one, the money can’t be spent on infrastructure, like road or bridge repair. But the City Administrator says they’re still on the list. “They were included because they were brought up at the public meeting and we didn’t want to discard them, but they’re a lower priority.”

Another limitation is time. Not only are these one-time payments, meaning the City can’t, say, create a new position, but the projects must be completed by June 2024. Outgoing member Holly Berg recommended focusing on “things that can continue to move the City forward terms of revenue production, things that investing in that will generate funds in the future.”

The City Council must determine the plans for the first $1.8 million payment by March of next year, which leaves only three months for the new Council to decide.

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