City, county discuss issues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2000

Austin city officials and staff and their Mower County counterparts discussed five other very public projects Wednesday.

Thursday, September 14, 2000

Austin city officials and staff and their Mower County counterparts discussed five other very public projects Wednesday.

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Youth Activity Center

Austin Mayor Bonnie Rietz pointedly asked the county delegation if Mower County will continue to financially support the youth activity center.

Richard P. Cummings, First District, said the $25,000 that the county has contributed remains in the proposed 2001 budget.

The YAC is operated at the National Guard Armory on the outskirts of Austin.

Plans call for moving it to Riverside Arena, when the downtown facility becomes a recreation center and its ice arena status is negated with the new multipurpose building at the county fairgrounds.

The city also is appropriating $25,000 annually for the YAC operated by the Austin Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

New baseball diamond

The city has loaned Austin Public Schools $68,000 to build a new varsity baseball diamond.

The former diamond is not a part of the plans for a renovated Wescott Athletic Field.

Riverland Community College has invited the school district and city to consider locating the baseball facility on its state-owned campus.

The city wants to know whether the county is willing to financially support the project.

Ray Tucker, Second District county commissioner and chairman of the county board, said state law may prevent the county or other government entities from doing that.

He also pointed out that smoking and beer sales, two popular sidelights at baseball games, would not be allowed on the state-owned college campus if that were ever desired and as they are now allowed at Marcusen Park.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson also warned it could set a precedent if the county helps one school district and not all others similarly.

Dick Lang, Third Ward Austin City Council member, asked his own peers: "How far is the city’s involvement in this project going to go?"

He received no answer until Rietz suggested excess flood recovery monies received by the city could be diverted to the project.

Library aid

The county is proposing a 3 percent increase in funding for the public library system in Mower County.

It is far less than the individual libraries requested

Also, the bookmobile service originating from the Austin Public Library appears headed for extinction; perhaps as soon as next year.

However, the county officials remain non-committal about the county’s annual $33,000 appropriation for the bookmobile’s operation.

Public safety communications

Both city and county officials and staff realize a decision must be made soon on the future of communications dispatching.

Presently, the joint Austin-Mower County Law Enforcement Center’s communications staff serves all public safety needs in the county.

The county has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrading the system, including enhanced 911 telephone services, new addressing and mapping and other individual improvements to ensure all agencies are connected to the center.

But, the question lingers: Does a personnel shortage in the dispatch center merit correction by hiring more personnel or should Mower County join a regional dispatch center?

On Wednesday, the officials and staff offered no consensus of opinion.