The Clarke County Reservoir Commission’s water project at Squaw Creek watershed just got a stamp of approval from the governor.
On Jan. 15, Gov. Terry Branstad unveiled the state’s budget proposal for fiscal years 2014-15.
The “Osceola Reservoir” is listed under the Department of Natural Resources category and it states, “$1 million in fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015 for a total investment of $2 million toward the creation of a reservoir near Osceola.”
Bill Trickey, Clarke County Development Corporation executive director, said Branstad is concerned with making sure there’s enough drinking water in Clarke County, as well as the entire state of Iowa.
“I was pretty pumped about that,” Trickey said during a Jan. 15 Osceola City Council meeting. “One of the things it does for us when we start talking to people like the DNR and USDA, you know, in the past when we’ve talked to them, they kind of looked at us like ‘oh, yeah, you guys are going to build a lake uh huh.’ Now, we have an endorsement from the highest elected official in our state. I think that’s important.”
Recently, Clarke County Board of Supervisors received a petition from a group of citizens to repeal the Local Option Sales and Services Tax (LOSST).
A special election was scheduled May 7 to vote on the following public measure to repeal the tax in the areas of Clarke County where it is imposed.
This includes LOSST 2008 with the city of Woodburn, LOSST 2009 with the city of Osceola and LOSST 2010 with the city of Murray.
The special election is in response to CCRC’s Squaw Creek Watershed project, which will provide a water supply for Osceola and Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) with an 816-acre lake that provides 2.2 million gallons of water per day.
Trickey said he’s encouraged by the governor’s budget request for the reservoir.
“It means that we should be able to do this project without any general obligation bonds that we would have to issue at all,” he said. “Between local-option sales tax and all the other rocks we’ve turned over to find money, I think we’ll be OK.”
The total project cost for the reservoir in the Squaw Creek Watershed is estimated at $35.5 million. Funding the project includes many sources, especially LOSST.
Basically, in the special election, in order to keep the sales tax in place and be in favor of the Squaw Creek Watershed project, people would have to vote “no” on the ballot,
If they think LOSST should be repealed, or are against the water project, they may vote “yes.”
“The nice thing about he local-option sales tax is everybody that spends money in Osceola helps us pay for our reservoir, whether they live here or not, just by coming here and shopping,” Trickey said.
Trickey said the people who supported the petition to recall LOSST were exercising their rights as citizens of Iowa to have an election.
However, he said he was confident voters will support keeping the LOSST because this is the third time it’s been put to a vote, and every time they have “overwhelmingly supported it.”
At the Jan. 15 meeting, it was said West Lake, the current water source, was 63 inches below the spillway.
“We’ll work hard to make sure the public understands the local-option sales tax is the best way to pay for this lake because building a new water supply is not optional. We have to have a new water supply,” Trickey said.