City’s budget deficit means it’s time to rethink the annual $200K subsidy for the NCRC

Northfield Community Resource Center Northfield Community Resource Center Northfield Community Resource Center
Over a month ago at a City Council meeting, City Finance Director Kathleen McBride reminded the Council that the City’s general fund subsidizes the Northfield Community Resource Center (NCRC) building to the tune of $200,000 every year. (This does NOT include the debt service on the building.) Here’s a 30-second screen capture of the video of her remarks:

As far as I know, no one on the Council has said anything more about it and I don’t think City Administrator Joel Walinski mentioned the NCRC in his budget cutting-related remarks to the Council earlier this week.

It’s no easy task to understand the financials surrounding NCRC, given its complicated origins and ongoing negotiated leases with the various agencies and programs housed there. (Some historical resources/links below.)

But it’s time to bring the details of these NCRC financial arrangements out into the open so citizens can help staff and the council rethink what the City’s role should be, given the $200K annual subsidy and budget deficits looming this year and next.

I’m not necessarily against the subsidy. Many cities evidently do something similar as a way to help support programs which are not part of the city but that add value to the community. I just want to have the discussion.

And it’s not just the budget deficit that should compel us to have this discussion.  It’s also the proposed new police facility that’s possibly relevant.

I’ve been asking people what the pros and cons might be of locating the police department at the NCRC, given the $200K annual subsidy, its central location, ample parking, ample room to construct a secure garage/sally port, and ample office/meeting space (assuming one or more agencies move out).

I’ve not heard many arguments against the idea but without knowing what the financial arrangements are with the current tenants, it’s difficult to know whether this option is viable.

So let’s see what relevant documents can be brought to light and have a discussion about it all. In the meantime:

City Administrator Susan Hoyt introduced a motion to consider approving new leases for the tenants of the Northfield Community Resource Center (NCRC) and provided some background information.

Jeanne Massey, Ehlers provided a brief summary of the process.

A motion was made by C. Pokorney and seconded by C. Vohs to PASS MOTION (M2005-0031) APPROVE LEASE AGREEMENTS DATED APRIL 2, 2005 FOR THE NORTHFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT 659, THE COMMUNITY ACTION CENTER OF NORTHFIELD, THREE RIVERS COMMUNITY ACTION INC., THE NORTHFIELD SENIOR CITIZENS INC., THE NORTHFIELD AREA UNITED WAY, THE RICE COUNTY MEDIATION SERVICES, THE HEALTHY COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE, PROJECT SITE AND LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES AS TENANTS IN THE NORTHFIELD COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTER (NCRC), A CITY OWNED AND MANAGED FACILITY. (Minor corrections permitted.)

Victor Summa, 812 St. Olaf Ave., questioned if the tenants were paying rent or paying a share of the operating costs and how the costs went down.

City Administrator Hoyt responded that the tenants are paying rent.
Jeanne Massey, Ehlers responded that actual costs rather than projected costs are being used.

Northfield Community Resource Center (NCRC) tenants Jim Blaha, Community Action Center and Mike Thorsteinson, Three Rivers Community Action spoke in favor of the agreements and the process that was used.

A question and answer period ensued.

Vote on motion to approve lease agreements. All in favor. Motion carried.

A motion (M2005-0032) was made by C. Nelson and seconded by C. Bond to APPROVE THE CAPITAL CONTRIBUTION AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF NORTHFIELD AND THE NORTHFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT 659. All in favor. Motion carried.

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