Senior Center takes a bite into city improvement funds
The Carson Senior Center expansion – which was supposed to be paid for by the 5 cent property tax override approved 14 years ago – dipped into the city’s general fund Thursday.
City Engineer Larry Werner told the Board of Supervisors more than $200,000 is needed beyond what the override can pay to cover several unanticipated costs including new HVAC controls, a telephone system and payment of water and sewer fees.
He said the changes in the project were offset by reductions in a number of other areas, “but we’ve got to the bottom line and there are some things that need to be taken care of.”
The expansion project is expected to be finished by the end of May with a grand opening set in July.
Mayor Ray Masayko asked where the money was coming from and Werner said from the city Capital Improvement Program’s ending fund balance.
“Are we saying the whole override is committed and we are now augmenting from the general fund CIP?” Masayko asked.
Werner said yes.
“That means they are now in the ending fund balance of every other city agency,” said Masayko. His next question was whether this would be the last request for more money for the project, which has been repeatedly changed and modified since it was originally approved.
“I wish I could say that is true,” said Werner, warning supervisors he would probably be back for more money to handle “one or two small issues.” He estimated another $25,000 would be needed from the city.
“That was not necessarily represented as something we would need to do when the project began,” said Masayko.
But Masayko said he would support the expenditure because the project doubling the size of the senior center was badly needed.
“I’m not going to punish these folks but there were obviously some things that were not included in the original bid,” he said.
Supervisor Shelly Aldean asked whether there were any other potential places to save money and Werner said he expected some money to come in from other savings and from an insurance claim for damage to a floor. But when she asked whether that money would help repay the general fund, Werner indicated it probably wouldn’t.
Masayko was joined by Supervisor Pete Livermore who said the expense would hit other departments preparing their capital improvement needs for the upcoming budget process.
“Once we do this, we’re reaching into other people’s pockets,” he said.
Finance Director Tom Minton confirmed that judgment saying: “That’s right. We will have $200,000 less in CIP for 2005.”
The project to double the size of the senior center is costing an estimated $3 million altogether. Among the added costs since the project was approved are remodeling of the existing facility. When supervisors approved the plan, that wasn’t part of the budget. But city officials say there have been numerous changes including changing the plan from two stories to a single story after they had already purchased an elevator.
Werner told supervisors he is still trying to sell the elevator and recoup some of the money.
Minton said the 5 cent property tax override approved by voters to support the senior center is now generating about $563,250 a year but that, with the expansion of the facility, almost all of that will be used to operate and maintain the center.
Aldean and Livermore both asked whether diverting the money to the center project would interfere with other projects needed by city agencies.
City Manager Linda Ritter said there was “nothing critical on the horizon” this coming budget cycle.
The board approved the expenditure unanimously but even as they did so, Werner corrected himself saying the total cost was higher than the $202,000 they had been talking about. He said the grand total needed Thursday was actually $229,500. The board approved the new total despite the last-minute change.
“We are doing that willingly and knowingly but the message is this is not a contingency,” said Masayko. “This is an impact on other health, safety and welfare services Carson City has to provide.”
Contact Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.