BRAINERD – Brainerd Community Action and The Center will continue to receive funds from the City of Brainerd through its charter after an amendment changed the process for obtaining the money.
The Northland Arboretum has also requested a portion of the funds allocated to nonprofit organizations, but the city council has yet to act on this proposal.
Historically, the city’s charter guaranteed a portion of its funds to the Northland Arboretum, Brainerd Community Action, and to establish and maintain a program to benefit seniors or to fund a nonprofit seniors organization. . For consistency, the board changed language last year to exclude the names of specific organizations, but pledges to support entities that offer community programs and events and arboretum or space organizations greens.
The charter previously provided that half a thousand of the royalty would be allocated to these groups. Because this term, which relates to property taxes, is obsolete, the council changed the language last year to say instead that 1.5% of the previous year’s tax levy would be allocated to these causes, which which, according to the staff, is about the same amount of money. This year, that equals $240,183, or $80,061 each for three organizations.
If we buy Center dues for every senior in town, that would be about $50,000. I would therefore support the funding of the Center up to a level of $50,000. I am not in favor of funding beyond that.
Gabe Johnson, Brainerd Town Council
With the broader language in the charter and the 10-year contracts with Brainerd Community Action, the Northland Arboretum and the Center for Mill Funds expiring in 2022, the board has also decided to go through a request for proposals process. to determine which entities the money will go to.
The city council and its staff and finance committee on Monday, March 21, considered four fund proposals – two for the senior program money and one for each of the other two categories.
The Northland Arboretum applied for the dedicated funds for an arboretum or green space organization, offering to use them to maintain its visitor center and provide staff to create educational and recreational programs around nature. Costs for utilities, insurance, building maintenance, supplies, and competitive salaries and benefits continue to rise, Arboretum staff wrote in the proposal. Contributions from the Town of Brainerd currently represent 25% of the Arboretum’s annual budget.
While the Northland Arboretum has land in Brainerd and Baxter, its visitor center is in Baxter. And because the recent charter amendment dictates the funds to an organization within Brainerd, the city council has agreed to seek clarification from the city’s charter commission on whether the Arboretum qualifies for the money. .
Brainerd Community Action was the sole applicant for community programs funds, offering to continue spending the money on events like July 4th, Arts in the Park, St. Patrick’s Day and neighborhood association gatherings. These events are accompanied by publicity, marketing and other professional services.
The board unanimously approved a five-year contract with Brainerd Community Action for charter funds.
The Center and Be a Pal have both applied for funds for senior programs.
The long-established center in North Brainerd offers games, health and wellness opportunities, arts programs, and educational and entertainment events for seniors. According to his proposal, the funds would be used for construction expenses, utilities, payroll and other miscellaneous costs related to tax preparation, supplies, printing, postage, etc.
I’m not a senior, but I’m glad to see some of my tax money going to the senior center. I think the operation is just fantastic and it does not only benefit the elderly people of the town of Brainerd.
Kelly Bevans, Brainerd Town Council
Be a Pal is a non-profit organization founded in December 2020 that connects adults in senior living facilities with pen pals. The group works with various seniors facilities in the Lakes region, including three in Brainerd, and hopes to expand its programming and reach to all seniors in Crow Wing County. Charter funds would go towards staff salaries, programs and activities, office space, supplies, mileage, port fees, and community outreach.
The board ultimately opted to allocate the top funds to the Center, as board member Tiffany Stenglein pointed out, Be a Pal is a relatively new program that is just getting started and may not be the best use. city money. Board Member Kevin Stunek agreed.
“I totally support the program; I think it’s a good program, but it’s just starting to get wet, and I think we need a little groundwork, and we need a little history here so we can start giving money, in my opinion,” Stunek said at the council staff meeting Monday. and finance committee meeting.
While Stenglein, Stunek, and eventually the rest of the council agreed to donate the money to the Center, council member Gabe Johnson did not.
Johnson said he supports funding for the Center, but not at the level of the 1.5% levy funds in the charter.
“These levy dollars should be used to benefit the citizens of Brainerd from whom the dollars were taxed, right? This should not benefit the region. says Johnson. “…We have 14,395 people in Brainerd. Seventeen percent of them are seniors. If we buy Center dues for every senior in town, that would be about $50,000. I would therefore support the funding of the Center up to a level of $50,000. I do not support funding beyond that.
Johnson said he sees nothing in the Center’s proposal that specifically benefits seniors and residents of Brainerd more than other seniors in the area who can also use the facility and programs.
Council President Kelly Bevans, however, said he was not a member of the Center but still benefited from it and was usually there weekly for various activities.
“I guarantee you I’m making well over $50 from what they’re doing,” Bevans said. “…I’m not an elderly person, but I’m glad to see that part of my tax money goes to the center for the elderly. I think the operation is just fantastic and it does not only benefit the elderly people of the town of Brainerd. »
The board voted 6 to 1 for a five-year contract with the Center for charter funds, with Johnson opposed.