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City delays budget decision over senior center position

Members of the Rambling River Center Advisory Board held up the budget and tax levy approval at Monday’s city council meeting with continued requests for an assistant to help run the center’s programs.

“We feel it is that important for us to have that position filled,” said the center’s board chairwoman Marilyn Briesacher. “We need somebody day to day.”

The city was anxious to approve the new levy and 2016 budget so the information can be submitted to Dakota County by the Dec. 28 deadline. Monday’s presentation was a Truth in Taxation hearing, held to allow residents to comment on the proposed budget and tax levy.

The city plans to approve a tax increase of about $46 for the average residential home. Finance director Robin Hanson said this is a decrease of about $2 from the September estimate. About 74 percent of city revenue comes from property taxes.

The Rambling River Center, a city-subsidized facility for senior citizens, lost its assistant in March when she left to work at city hall. Since that time, the board has been lobbying for a replacement, something the frugal-minded council was unwilling to address.

The issue was tabled at a Sept. 21 meeting, with the council asking for 90 days to decide.

When the council opened the floor for questions from the audience about the budget and levy, the board asked about the assistant position, even sweetening the deal by offering to pay half the salary up to $11,000 for two years and forego their own stipends for a total of $1,680.

With mayor Todd Larson out of town, acting mayor Terry Donnelly consulted the council and together they chose to postpone the approval until the assistant’s position can be looked into at a Dec.14 work session and then voted on at the Dec. 21 council meeting.

The city’s portion of $149,166 pays for the utility bills and employee salaries for the center, supplied, in part, by membership fees. All other needs, such as furniture, are supplied through fundraising, Briesacher said.

Nicole Gorman is the current full-time recreation supervisor.

“Nicole needs help,” said board member Roger Wood.