North Branch says no to senior center donation

Barb Nelson, the president of the Chisago County Board on Aging, approached the North Branch City Council June 23 with a request that the city donate $1,500 to the center as part of a contract for services between the city and the center.

The $1,500 is the amount the center still needs to cover operating costs for the rest of the year.

In April, the council gave the senior center $1,500; it was looking for a total of $4,500 to cover expenses.

Since that time, the center has raised money through a fundraiser in May; it got $1,000 from North Branch VFW Post 6424, $100 from North Branch American Legion Post 85, and it’s anticipating $500 from the North Branch Fire Department.

Councilmember Trent Jensen said he had reservations about giving the senior center any more money this year.

“I applaud everything you’ve done, but I still have a hard time with this because it’s a donation, and we shouldn’t be using taxpayer money that was intended for the operations of the city for things that are not operations of the city,” he said.  “I’m not in favor of it on that principal, but I support everything you’ve done.”

Mayor Ron Lindquist said the $1,500 dollars was the amount the city had budgeted to give to the center this year, and he shared Jensen’s viewpoint.

“We fulfilled our obligation here,” he said. “We gave the $1,500. That’s what we budgeted for. That’s my feeling; I’d be hard pressed to give any more.”

He added that he feels other local units of government, including the county, should step up to the plate and donate to the senior center.

“It shouldn’t always be North Branch all the time,” he said.

He also noted Nelson could approach area businesses to try and secure that last $1,500.

Councilmember Kathy Blomquist said some Chisago County townships had donated to the center, and she motioned that the city give the $1,500 to the center out of a fund that was designated for a city communications person who has not yet been hired, thus that money isn’t being utilized right now.

Her motion died for a lack of a second.

Even though Jensen and Lindquist said they wouldn’t support the center’s funding request, Lindquist told Nelson to come to the next meeting, when the full council might be present, because he wanted to know Furman and Borchardt’s opinion on the request.

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