By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Jody Graff with Monticello Senior Dining met with the Monticello City Council at their regular meeting on Dec. 17 to discuss whether the Council would consider covering some of her hours due to senior dining cuts.
Graff and Lisa Tallman, with Jones County Senior Dining, met with Doug Herman, city administrator, and Dena Himes, City Mayor, separately to explain potential budget cuts to the program.
As Graff explained to the Council, Monticello has a senior center, which just happens to be the location for Monticello Senior Dining.
“Regardless of myself,” said Graff, “the center needs consistent hours to keep everything running smoothly.”
The Council asked if Graff’s hours from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. need to remain the same. Graff explained she has a lot of house keeping work to get done before meals are served at the center at 11:30 a.m.
“Cutting the hours would severely impact the level of activity that can take place here,” Graff said.
The Council was of the mind to look into financially supporting the senior center, and discuss having Graff remain on as a county employee (her current status) and helping the Monticello senior center become a 501(c)3 to be eligible for fundraising and grant opportunities.
The Council would like to see a board established and made up of a couple of the senior citizens who utilize the center, Graff, Herman and a Council member. Once this operating board is set in place, decisions could be made on running the center.
“The board could set up policies and procedures for renting and using the center,” explained Herman. “They would be eligible for grants and donations.”
One thing Herman told the Council he wants to look into is allowing the city to give additional funding to the county to keep Graff at her regular hours, but keep her on as a county employee.
Council member Tom Yeoman expressed his thoughts on the hours of the center, saying he thought closing at 2:30 p.m. was too early for the center to close. Graff said she would be willing to stay there longer hours, but at whose expense?
“It’s great to have this service, but where is the additional money going to come from?” questioned Council member Dave Goedken.
Council member John Sauser was firm in saying Monticello needs this senior center, and the city could find the money to keep it going.
Graff said she serves an average of 70 meals a day, both congregate meals and home deliveries.
“Some people say the city has done a lot of great improvements to the city over the years,” said Herman, “but most of those improvements don’t necessarily affect the senior population. This is something the city could do to help the seniors.”
In other city business:
• The city awarded a bid from Ricklefs Excavating, Ltd. in the amount of $27,566 to replace a sewer line and a manhole behind and west of homes along Walnut Street.
Six bids were received. The Council set provisions on the contract concerning a start date, number of working days and the number of pay requests that can be made.
• A public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 at 6 p.m. to amend the budget. Herman said the majority of the amendments are due the flood buy-out projects.
• Herman discussed a sewer usage credit policy with the Council, citing examples from the City of Anamosa’s policy on the matter. The Council asked Herman to draft a policy and they would review it at their next regular meeting.