At the Osceola City Council meeting Tuesday night all councilmen were present with Tom Bahls and Dennis Page calling in.
No public comment was made regarding the fiscal year 2022 budget prior to the meeting. The budget maintains the current tax rate of $14.48. The purposed levy will generate a total of $2,644,505. The total general fund operating budget for the next year is $3,708,816. The cemeteries budget was increased $25,000 for a fence to go around the perimeter. The total budget is $65,326,000 for fiscal year 2022. Big projects using that money include the new waste water treatment plant and the downtown street project. No public comment was made during the public hearing. The fiscal year 2022 budget was adopted in a unanimous vote.
“I want to commend all of our departments and all of our staff and the council all synergizing and working together to respect the traditions of Osceola by trying to be fiscally responsible and being good stewards of the money but we are changing the status quo and pushing Osceola forward,” said Mayor Thomas Kedley.
The council voted to accept the $100,000 WQUI Grant.
“We were awarded the Water Quality Urban Infrastructure Grant for $100,000 and it will be used to help fund urban storm water systems in the central business district,” said City Administrator Ty Wheeler.
Council discussed the water main project on which they are partnering with the Osceola Water Utility. This project will take place in the summer and include a new water main and a new sidewalk in the North Fillmore/West Clay Street area. The council voted to set the date of the public hearing on April 20. Other sidewalk projects include the Q Pond Trail connector and the Seminal Way- Hembry Way connector. The Clarke County Development Cooperation has expressed interest in seeing a trail connecting the upcoming dog park to the East Lake Trail.
The Clarke County Farmers Market requested the use of the train depot as an alternative site during inclement weather. They had not turned in their special event permit at the time of the council meeting but the discussion went on anyway.
“I think it’s a nice idea and utilization of the space,” said Wheeler. “Certainly from a parking standpoint it would be nice for them... I don’t have any concerns...”
Kedley liked the idea so long as the farmers market group stuck to the COVID-19 regulations and cleaned up after themselves.
“The only other consideration would be the rail traffic,” said Councilman George Fotiadis. “The farmers market is typically open in the morning and Amtrak’s eastbound typically arrives in the morning. That was the only thing I was thinking.”
“I think they could co-occupy the space if it came down to it,” said Wheeler. “The peak parking is really during the holidays so beyond that I think there’s probably adequate space to accommodate the farmers market event along with the Amtrak... It would offer some nice exposure to the farmers market.”
Councilman Dan Hooper was a little more reserved, saying he wants it on a temporary and evaluated basis. He wants to be able to make sure there aren’t any problems with using the facility and following rules and guidelines. The motion passed with the caveat that depot staff will work with farmers market vendors to make sure the space is utilized cohesively.
Amtrak will resume regular services May 24.
Council discussed setting enforceable rules in the historic downtown district for the facades of buildings.
“We’re on the National Historic Registry. The whole reason for doing this is to preserve the history and we’re not going to be able to do this if we don’t have regulations,” said Kedley.
“We’re not going to get too in depth with the criteria,” said Councilman Doug Gay. “We’re just talking about the exterior. I just wanted to clarify that so there are no misconceptions...It’s exterior preservation.”
The downtown street project will begin after the Fourth of July this summer.
“This will be a two year project. There will be a time when we have to button it up and then come back to it. What I want to do is avoid the Fourth of July,” said Wheeler. “So we’d start after the Fourth until it get’s to the point that we have to stop, wait until we can start again until we have to button it back up for the following Fourth.”
Approximately 3,600 vaccinations have been given so far by the Clarke County Hospital and Clarke County Public Health. This number does not include the vaccinations given at Hy-Vee or other locations.
“The hospital and public health are working hard to get our community done,” said Kedley.
In the last couple weeks CCH and CCPH have administered more that 2,500 shots. Last week alone they administered over 1,300 primary and secondary shot at CCH.
“The community effort was there... We’re continuing to move forward,” said Councilman Tom Bahls.
Moderna vaccines will be available at Public Health March 26 by appointment only. Call 641-342-3724 to schedule an appointment.
Clarke County is almost 30% vaccinated.