Water Board Re-Opens Shared Services Discussions
By Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News
Oskaloosa, Iowa - On Monday night, the Oskaloosa Water Utility Board of Trustees re-opened discussions on sharing services with the Oskaloosa City Council.
Last year, a firm from Des Moines conducted a study recommending how the two agencies can increase efficiency by sharing services. But the two entities did not agree on how to make those changes, and the discussions stalled back in February.
Board of Trustee Joe Ryan asked the board to consider sharing information technology (IT) services with the city, specifically pointing out sharing a website as a possible cost-saving measure.
“We talked about it once, and I’d really like to see that re-visited, and I would like to have more of an opinion from an IT person. As far as how our website could be incorporated into the city’s (website), and look at it from a standpoint of what kind of cost savings would we have by doing that,” Ryan says.
General Manager Chad Coon says he will look into the issue. The board will consider the website transfer if it saves money for the water department.
“We’ll have to see what the costs are,” says Board Chairman Pete Settimi.
Ryan also discussed financing for the water department’s five-year capital improvement plan. He says he spoke to Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock and would like to see other ways the water department can finance its projects.
“I’d really would like to see him (Schrock), maybe, come to (the) next board meeting, and visit with us about his thoughts, and the process they (the city) go through,” Ryan says.
Coon says the water department funds capital improvement projects with money from its water rates. Ryan says the department should look into financing options with the city, and also pursue grant opportunities. Ryan says the city has a consultant on retainer that helps with grants.
“I think we ought to tap into that,” Ryan says. “I’d really like to see the city manager come and, kind of, express his thoughts about things, and the possibilities and avenues of financing, and we can get some more information, for all of us.”
Settimi chimed in.
“Yeah, it’d be interesting to see if some of that applies, or if there are opportunities for the water department. I know most of the things I’ve seen over the years have been state-revolving,” Settimi says. “At least for water departments, there always seems to be special circumstances.”
Coon agreed with the board, and says it’s worth pursuing.
Errin Keltner, who is currently suing the city after being removed by the mayor as a water trustee, attended the meeting and offered input, but did not vote on any of the action items.
The next water board meeting is on June 16 at 5 p.m.