Senior center’s request for more money shot down by council
SNOHOMISH - The Snohomish Senior Center, struggling to make ends meet, approached and was turned down by the City Council for a requested additional $24,000 in city funding at last week’s meeting.
“As with any nonprofit, you’re really struggling to make ends meet and that’s no different for us right now,” senior center executive director Bob Dvorak said.
In addition to property maintenance support, the city contributes a flat $12,000 per year to the senior center. Dvorak asked the City Council to increase that funding to an annual contribution of $36,000.
The request amounted to a 200 percent increase in funding, which City Manager Larry Bauman wrote in council documents that he didn’t think that would be feasible.
“We don’t see a justification for additional funds at a time when we’re not able to fund all of our own current needs,” Bauman said.
The center is operating on an approximate $25,000 loss this year, Dvorak wrote to the city. He wrote that the center has reserves and will likely be depleted within two years.
Decreasing private contributions are to blame for the loss, Dvorak wrote. “Donations have dropped significantly, which is a big portion of our budget. This isn’t new or unique to our center, as other nonprofits and other senior centers are also feeling a similar pinch,” he wrote.
At the Sept. 17 City Council meeting, several senior center board members spoke in support of the request.
The council voted unanimously to reject the request for additional funding.
In an interview with the Tribune after the vote, Dvorak stressed his gratitude for the funds that the city does contribute.
He said the board will be meeting to answer the questions posed by council members and hopes to re-approach the council for more funding in the future.
As for how the senior center will make up the missing funds, Dvorak said there are other places he’ll continue to look.
“We’ll continue to look at different avenues,” Dvorak said. “The City Council is only one facet in our approach. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket.”
In addition to what Bauman called the city’s “direct” contribution of $12,000 a year, the city is also responsible for other financial support.
According to a council document, the city assumes responsibility of maintaining the building’s exterior, grounds, landscaping and parking lot, which totals $2,100. The center’s water, wastewater, and storm water utility costs are also paid for through the city’s general fund, which totals $5,700. In total, the city’s cost to support the senior center comes to $19,800.
Bauman also indicated that increased operational support for the senior center may give its members and board the “perception of entitlement that may be difficult for the City Council to reduce or eliminate in future years.”
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