The public works department is trying to stay ahead of the game in planning for another unfunded mandate after watching the city of Des Moines get slammed with a tight timeframe when they didn’t submit a plan.
The City Council approved the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan on a 4-1 vote at the Tuesday night meeting, with Councilman Bob Meyers as the dissenting vote.
In order for the city to be in compliance to receive Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funding through the Iowa Department of Transportation, ADA regulations must be met, including curb ramps at all intersections of sidewalks with public streets.
The council came to a consensus at its April 9 work session to submit the plan for a 10-year time frame, which will cost $1.28 million, an approximate $150,000 per year in improvements.
Public Works Director Larry Seals said he has not yet heard back about the submitted plan.
“It could possibly come back with seven years,” Seals said. “We’re trying to head off what happened to Des Moines.”
After not submitting a plan, the U.S. Department of Justice came in and told the city of Des Moines that they had to do the entire project in three years. Through litigation, the city was able to extend that to seven years.
“I would really like to see us work on a 20-year plan,” Meyers said.
Councilman Brian Morgan said “the old saying of kicking a can down the road,” has come up time and time again with unfunded mandates, as the ADA went into effect in 1990.
“Let’s implement this plan, get it done, stay ahead of them and show them we’re working on it,” Morgan said.
Main Street Ottumwa and Bridge View Center gave their year-end financial reports to the council.
BVC Executive Director Larry Gawronski said from November to June, since VenuWorks took over as the center’s management company, actual income has risen above what was expected by $62,000.
The expected city subsidy was more than $400,000, though the actual subsidy ended up as only $241,000.
Gawronski noted that direct spending of 67,170 attendees of 410 event days totaled $982,523, which leads to an economic impact of more than $2.2 million.
MSO Executive Director Cindy Woodbury said the organization is starting this fiscal year with a $91,000 budget, which funds everything from salaries to events.
This week, final interviews will be done for the architect and manager of the future Ottumwa Community Marketplace.
“We’re not in the prettiest part of the project ... but things are continuing to move forward,” Woodbury said. “The final architect will hire contractors, and then we will see some physical changes to the marketplace.”
Two citizens also spoke to the council Tuesday night.
Francesca Djordjevich said she hopes the council and mayor set aside “political differences and personal dislikes to do something good for the citizens of Ottumwa” in adopting an Urban Forestation Program regarding trees taken out due to sewer separation. The issue will be discussed at Monday’s work session.
Rick McClure said a lack of work sessions is “a slap in the face,” and hoped the council will look at the possibility of making council meetings available to all citizens, “since GO-TV is funded by taxpayers, it should not be limited to Mediacom customers only.”
The council also approved:
• The $21,220 purchase of upgraded digital video recording systems in Ottumwa Police Department’s cars. Chief Jim Clark noted that having the video running has protected the city several times in complaints against officers.
• A number of public works projects, including the contracts for the East Alta Vista culvert repair and Center Street curb and gutter replacement; payment for the Flygt dewatering pump at the Quincy Storm Water Pump Station; and the purchase of two standby emergency generators and two sets of automatic switchgear for the Fairport Sanitary and South Airport Pump Stations.