One-million dollars for a frontage road to the airport, and $650,000 for two new fire trucks. These are numbers some claim come from the city's 2015 budget in Onawa, Iowa.
They were published in a full page ad in a community newspaper prior to Tuesday night's city council meeting. The figures had some people fired up, and ready with pointed questions for the council. "This budget was, as the mayor put it to me, one of the hardest that he's ever worked on since being on council. This is the first budget that our general fund will be a balanced budget," City Administrator Bradley Hanson said.
Some community members are less than happy with the way things are turning out, even if the budget isn't official yet. "They're spending too much, I think. I wouldn't say frivolous, but they're spending a lot of money on things I don't think we need," Barry Clayton, Onawa, IA said.
At the city council meeting, Tuesday night, several people stood up to support, and to protest, the city council actions. City Administrator Bradley Hanson says it was necessary to get the city out of debt. He says some of the numbers, which caused controversy when they were printed in a local newspaper ad, were misleading. "I think a lot of the numbers in the advertisement were correct, it's just that a lot of the basis behind those numbers is that we're looking for grants before anything can get done," Hanson said.
People on both sides of this issue say they think the tension, at Tuesday's meeting, was productive. "I really think something will happen out of this. This is the most favorable it's ever seemed," Clayton said. "It's our hope that everyone will understand that we're doing what's right for the citizens of Onawa, and we are going to be good stewards of the money," Hanson said.
There's a public hearing, in Onawa, on March 11th to talk about the final budget proposals. City leaders say that's to encourage an open dialogue, so everyone can work together.
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