OSCEOLA, IA – The Osceola City Council unanimously decided to hold a public hearing on a 2007-08 city budget that spikes property taxes for one year, to set aside funding for a new fire truck, according to the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune newspaper. If approved, next year’s city budget would jump 21 percent because more than $300,000 of debt would be shifted to property taxes. Without the debt shift, which makes way to set aside $300,000 for a new fire truck, the increase in next year’s city budget would have been cut to 4.2 percent.

The council will decide whether to approve the one-year spike in property taxes at a public hearing. The hearing is open to all and is set at 7 p.m. Mar. 13 at City Hall.

Osceola Volunteer Fire Chief Donnie McCuddin asked the city to replace the department’s 1981 ladder truck. McCuddin said the 100-foot ladder truck is still usable, but tests on the truck’s performance, including the strength of the ladder and truck’s water pressure are on the border of failure. A new ladder truck would cost an estimated $900,000. In a sheet he gave to the council, McCuddin indicated the department would look to raise and/or receive grants for the remaining cost of the truck.

The department also continues to operate without a tanker truck after it was wrecked while on a grass fire call about a year ago, according to the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune. The department has mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments to borrow one of their tanker trucks should the need for extra water arise.

Councilman Dr. George Fotadis also recommended the fire department look at putting its trucks on a rotating maintenance schedule so the city isn’t in a position where it needs to replace several fire trucks at the same time.

The 2007-08 budget also includes $52,000 for two new police vehicles and equipment.