City of NB gives $1,500 to senior center

Barb Nelson, the president of the Chisago Board on Aging, came before the North Branch City Council Monday night requesting $4,200 for the Chisago County Senior Center, which is housed at Uptown Maple Commons in the city.

She didn’t get the exact amount she was asking for, but she came away with $1,500.

Nelson said the money would be used to bring Catholic Charities senior dining services back to the senior center.

Those services ceased in December 2012 due to funding issues, and shortly after the departure of Catholic Charities from the center, a dining agreement was established through the school district and the Oak Inn restaurant to provide dining at that location for Chisago County Seniors.

Nelson said the food is good, but the price and location leave something to be desired.

She explained that when dining used to be at the senior center, residents could supply a donation for the meals, based on their income. With the current contract, they have to pay $3.75 a meal, which is tough for those on fixed incomes.

“We can’t go with just a donation because we can’t afford to do that,” she said.

The council approved the $1,500 by a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Trent Jensen casting the lone nay vote.

“I’m not in favor of any donation,” he said. “ I don’t think the city should be in the business of making donations.”

He then asked the city’s attorney, Jay Squires, if it was legal for a city to give a donation to an entity.

Squires said, under statute, there are two criteria a funding request has to meet to be legal.

“It has to be for public purpose, and it has to be authorized by law,” he said.

In his legal opinion, the center’s request met those obligations.

The council only approved the $1,500 of the $4,200 Nelson was asking for because that is the amount that was allotted for the center in the city’s budget.

The council suggested she pursue other avenues to get the rest of the money.

Nelson said $4,200 would pay for senior dining at the center through the rest of the year, which would give her and others time to pursue grants and other funding sources for senior dining at the location for the next three years.

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