Council Gathers For First Official Meeting Of 2020

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Oskaloosa City Council held its first scheduled meeting of the new year on Monday, January 7, 2020.

The City Council, in a first reading, approved the increase of the sanitary sewer rate. The purpose of the increase is to offset the debt generated by the upgrades to the sanitary sewer system and treatment facility.

The current charge is $8.11 per 100 cubic feet used, and with the increase being proposed, it would go to $8.62 per 100 cubic feet.

The minimum charge would also increase from the current $16.98 to $19.15, beginning in March of 2020.

The average residential sewer bill will increase from $49.42 per month to $53.63 per month if the rate increase is approved.

The Council will hold two more readings at upcoming meetings before the increase would begin on March 1st, 2020.

According to City documents, “The proposed March 1, 2020 increase is part of the multi-year increase plan that is recommended for the sanitary sewer fund. Increasing rates as outlined in this agenda allows the city to meet current financial obligations associated with the operations of the city’s wastewater treatment works, including costly DNR mandated improvements such as inflow and infiltration (I&I), general collection system improvements, and treatment plant upgrades.”

The Council heard from Shawn Christ and Michael Schrock in regards to the creative placemaking that has been ongoing during 2019.

Christ said that the focus so far has been the revitalization of the downtown area. The plan is to capitalize on what the city already has in its downtown, including the bandstand and the city park.

Christ said that one of the first steps to helping revitalize downtown is to bring in another restaurant to the downtown area and be specific to the square itself.

Christ said that there hadn’t been much progress to date in bringing that restaurant concept to life, and prospects have “sort of fizzled out.”

There has been progress in new restaurants, which include the ‘Pizza Den’ while owners of the former Mexican restaurant building have been working on plans for a bar and restaurant at that location.

The Oskaloosa Art Center is also a significant focus of the downtown revitalization process. As with all the different aspects of the placemaking process, a committee of individuals from within the community are helping to offer suggestions and advice in the process.

The group from FACE (Fine Arts and Culture Events) have been a large part of the discussion. FACE has helped to make things like the sculpture tour possible.

Another goal of the placemaking process is to make Oskaloosa bicycle-friendly. Those plans include bike lanes within the corporate city limits that make access to the trail system easier. Another of the goals being explored is a bike-share program that helps individuals get downtown and other locations within Oskaloosa.

You can learn more about the placemaking process at https://oskaloosaplacemaking.com/.

In other matters, the Council agreed to an amendment with Fox Engineering Associates for the Wastewater Facility Plan Short-Term Improvement Project.

The Council also authorized an agreement with HR Green to complete the work plan as required in regard to the Brownfields Community-Wide Hazardous Substances Assessment.

Lastly, the Council approved awarding a contract to Iowa Bridge & Culvert for the Northeast Bridge Replacement project.

The bridge being replaced is located on the road that leads to the north wastewater treatment plant.

The current bridge was found to be historical and required the city to expand the project to protect the structure. The Iowa DOT is also helping to fund the project.

Three bids were received, and the lowest bid was submitted by Iowa Bridge & Culvert, L.C. for a total amount of $562,492.95, which is $112,764.05 (16.7%) lower than the engineers estimate of $675,257. This project will be funded for 80% of the project cost ($449,994.36) from the Iowa DOT’s federal funding and the remaining 20% of the project cost ($112,498.59) from the City’s budget.

The next scheduled meeting for the Oskaloosa City Council is January 21st, 2020, at 6 pm inside the Council Chambers at City Hall.

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