The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 19, 2013

City’s YWCA donation on hold

Clinton council not ready to commit final dollar amount

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — While the Clinton YWCA's request for funding from the city of Clinton hasn't been dismissed, it will have to wait until other items in the city's fiscal year 2014 budget can be fully fleshed out. 

It also won’t be as substantial as originally requested.

During the final budget workshop on Monday, City Council members discussed the $53,000 funding request from the YWCA. The city is projected to have a $7,421 general fund surplus for fiscal year 2014, meaning the council would need to make further budget concessions in order to offer the financial support.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Julie Allesee moved to fund the YWCA at $25,000 — the same amount Clinton County recently awarded the agency to continue providing services for victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Bev Hermann suggested cutting $25,000 from the amount that is currently budgeted for animal control services, which includes the $120,000 subsidy.  

“When I think about it, I can't imagine that we are actually going to go through and go with a $120,000 animal control contract,” Hermann said, suggesting the $25,000 cut. “That would put it at $95,000 and I think that's even high.”

The council has yet to decide what will become of animal control in Clinton after a veto and three council votes last week that left the city without a contract in place. While council was scheduled to discuss the contract this morning, the costs and service level remained unclear Monday afternoon.

“I don't know about cutting the animal control budget when we haven't even had a discussion and we don't know which direction we're going. I can't see doing that. I think that’s like shooting yourself in the foot when we haven't even had the discussion,” At-large Councilman John Rowland said.

Even after the discussion, Interim City Administrator and City Finance Director Jessica Kinser said the direction the council takes will not be immediately effective. Council action could result in a request for proposal being issued for the services, the cost of which would not be known until proposals were returned.

“I don't believe tomorrow's discussion is going to get us to the point where we can start messing with the budget unless it is looking at the option of just the statutorily required minimum,” Kinser said.

Hermann then withdrew her motion, prompting Rowland to suggest a group of other reductions including a 10 percent across the board reduction in training and conference budgets and reducing dues and membership costs that are paid to the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Clinton Regional Development Corp. Paired with the $7,4000 surplus, these items would accommodate the $25,000.

However, there was some disagreement about whether the city could reduce membership costs.

Reducing department training when many departments have already reduced their training also did not excite city staff or some other council members.

“A 10 percent reduction on top of the 40 percent reduction from 2012 would be pretty detrimental,” Fire Chief Mike Brown said.

In the end, the council decided not to make immediate additional cuts to the general fund budget.

Instead, the council will wait and consider allocating any funds that are saved to other purposes.

Council members agreed to review these possible allocations before July 1, leaving YWCA officials in waiting for any funding from the city.  

At-large councilwoman Jennifer Graf, who is also the chairwoman of the YWCA board, abstained.