There’s a battle of political wills in Ottumwa over a proposed civic center that’s won a preliminary promise of 7-and-a-half MILLION dollars from the state. That so-called Vision Iowa “grant” has strings attached. The Vision Iowa Board wants Wapello County to contribute a MILLION dollars to the project. Jerry Parker, chairman of the Wapello County Board of Supervisors, says the county doesn’t have the money. Parker says areas of Wapello County outside of the city of Ottumwa approved a local option sales tax a year ago, but none of that new money can be used for the Bridgeview civic center. The ballot said 25 percent for property tax relief, 50 percent for roads and bridges, and 25 percent for county-owned infrastructure, like the courthouse. Parker says it’s wrong to have told county voters one thing on the election day ballot, then use the money for another purpose — the civic center. Parker says project backers are gunning for him, hoping to oust him in the November election. Parker says if he loses to a Bridgeview project supporter, the whole political equasion may change in Wapello County, as the Vision Iowa board has given the Supervisors ’til January to say they’ll put up the MILLION dollars.
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