The Osceola City Council met for a regular meeting on Feb. 21, where they were updated on the current water levels at West Lake, discussed a request for a mural painting and changes in taxable valuations.
Alisha Kale, chair of the Osceola Water Board, updated the council on the current status of West Lake, reporting that the water level was 49 inches below the spillway. Kale said that the previous week’s snowmelt and rain had garnered about an inch of water. Osceola entered the first stage of water conservation measures, a water watch, in September, and moved to water warning with restrictions in November.
A water warning may be declared when the water level in West Lake reaches an elevation 1069.0 feet above Mean Sea Level (3-feet below normal pool elevation of 1072.0 MSL). Violations include outside water and irrigation between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.; car washing except commercial establishments; filling private swimming pools, washing streets, driveways, etc.; nonessential cleaning of commercial and industrial equipment, and restaurants should only serve water upon customer request.
A diving crew has been hired to perform an initial inspection of West Lake in April, after which they will submit a plan to the Iowa DNR. The hope is that the dive team can assess the bottom intake and see if it can be moved up. Osceola Water Works can draw from two different intake levels in West Lake, however the bottom level presents treatment challenges. Previous attempts to use the water at the lower level has resulted in water treatment violations, as well as water quality issues for customers.
While the U.S. Drought monitor is no longer showing Clarke County as being in drought-status, Kale said that customers need to be aware that this upcoming summer is predicted to be very dry with a lack of precipitation.
“This summer…really watch our water intake until we’re able to get the raw water supply back replenished,” said Kale.
Kale has requested a meeting with Governor Reynolds to discuss the water situation in Osceola, and is waiting on a date for that meeting.
Osceola Chamber-Main Street approached city staff about painting a postcard mural on the south wall of the building at 100 South Fillmore, currently the home of juvenile services; the wall faces the post office.
City Administrator Ty Wheeler suggested that it might be in the city’s best interest to draft an easement, for both the current and future parties involved in the project. He said an easement would be helpful in the maintenance and care of the mural, as well as knowing that should something happen to the building, the city is not responsible for the mural. An easement would also mean that should the building not be in the city’s possession, the mural will remain.
On Feb. 20, Governor Reynolds signed Senate File 181 into law, which changes the rollback formula for tax purposes.
Since October, Iowa legislators had been researching how to best fix an error in taxes when multi-residential properties were included with residential properties and the rollback rate. The rollback is an adjustment to limit tax asking expecting property assessments to increase.
Now, government entities are waiting on the new valuation, which will not be released until March 9. The city’s max levy public hearing is scheduled for March 7, and will continue as planned. Wheeler said the guidance from the state was that if the hearing had already been posted to the public, to proceed with the knowledge that the numbers will not be accurate. Wheeler and the council will meet after the new valuations have been released to get a better idea of what the budget will look like.
Other council business
Council approved 4-0 the Osceola Senior Center’s request of $6,000 and waiver of sewer fees, which has been done annually for several years.
City staff were directed to move forward with the voluntary annexation petition of a large swath of land filed by Lemar Koethe, as well as roughly a quarter of an acre owned by Clarke Community Schools; the school board approved the voluntary annexation at their meeting on Feb. 13, 4-1 (board member Brian Crawford opposed the motion). The land annexed by the school is the area where the driveway into the field north of the middle school lies. The annexation will allow for a development plan for both commercial and residential along the Interstate 35 corridor and the area north of the high school.
The first community event for the city’s comprehensive plan is set for Saturday, March 25 at the Osceola Municipal Golf Course, with more information to be made available in the coming weeks.
The next city council meeting is March 7. At that meeting, the council will vote on one of three candidates to fill the councilperson-at-large position vacated by the resignation of Missy Cline in January. The three candidates are Sonya Hicks, Miles Murphy and Jose Vargas.
Full meeting minutes can be found on the city’s website or in the legal section of this newspaper.