County pushes forward with window project | news

OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Board of Supervisors saw an opening to replace windows at the courthouse, and Tuesday, they went through it.

The supervisors agreed to replace the windows for any amount between $1.2 and $1.7 million, with the funding coming out of an allotment of American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

The project would still leave the county with roughly $2 million in first-installation ARPA funding, and this is the second big project — following a $2.5 million donation to the proposed Ottumwa SportsPlex — the county has used those funds for.

“We’ve been trying for four or five years to find some way to be able to do the windows, and here’s that chance,” Supervisor Jerry Parker said. “There are other options, but they’re not good, like doing three floors.”

Supervisor Brian Morgan agreed that the county needed to spend the ARPA funding “to invest heavily and see a return on it.”

“I think we’ve kind of made that effort from the beginning,” he said. “With energy efficiency, compared to how bad these are now, we’re going to see savings and recoup that. But it’s just a general fact they need done.”

According to a construction estimate, just doing the windows and labor will cost $1.2 million, but the cost could go up depending on inflation, material availability, etc.

There was also another option to replace entry doors and other doors for about $140,000, but Parker said those probably wouldn’t be done unless the other costs were lower than what they were told.

The only other part of the project that remains is finding a contractor to do the work; Parker said it was estimated the window replacement would take about 12 weeks.

“They’ve got all the dimensions,” he said. “We’ve already had the window company from Kansas City here with a couple samples. They’re really neat.”

“They’re Cadillac windows,” Morgan chuckled.

In other business:

• The supervisors approved the maximum property tax levy for fiscal year 2023. The most of the county will be able to levy for general services is $8,640,859, and $1,796,630 for rural services. Both are increases as a result of the money saved from the disappearance of the mental health levy this year; the state legislature passed a bill last year removing property taxes from funding the levy.

Parker said the county will be lowering property taxes by about $751,000, or 6%.

“It’s not uncommon to have the levy drop, but you still pay more in property taxes because the value goes up,” he said. “But in our case here, the levy is going to drop in the in-town part by $1.05 and the overall levy dropped 72 cents.”

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