County can't commit to a multi-year community center plan
With a wary eye toward future budgets, the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors Tuesday agreed to give the City of Marathon $35,000 toward renovating its community center.
Marathon had asked earlier for $75,000, possibly in three installments, to help with repairs to its community center which houses city offices, library, and the community center.
The supervisors hesitated to hand over the full request and decided to split the difference with a $35,000 one-time contribution. There was no future commitment nor any future denial of help from the county.
Supervisor Lorna Burnside said she was concerned about setting a precedent
"This isn't the last request we're going to get from a community," Burnside said, suggesting the county set a scale according to city population if the county gets future requests.
Steve Hallgren, planner with Northwest Iowa Planning and Development, said Marathon has applied for a $190,000 CAT (Community Attractions and Tourism) grant. "Historically, the awards have not been high on CAT," Hallgren said. "They've been 15 to 20 percent of the overall budget." The latest estimate for the overall cost of demolition and remodeling is $646,490, not quite 30 percent of the overall projected cost.
County support, verbal or financial, is usually required for successful CAT grant awards.
Marathon has already qualified for a $50,000 grant and $350,000 guaranteed USDA Rural Development loan. However, that loan would have to be repaid, a formidable cost to the town of 302 residents. Marathon has not choice but to raze the 1927 portion of the building, formerly known as the Marathon School, that houses city offices and the community center. Winds last spring tore off a third of the roof and, despite $13,000 in emergency repairs, the building remains uninsurable except for liability coverage. Plans are to rebuild after razing the old portion and house all city offices and functions under one roof, a move that would actually reduce the city's insurance premium on the building.
Supervisor Jim Gustafson said he was concerned about obligating the county to a three-year commitment.
"We don't know where we're going to be then," Gustafson said. "My thoughts are that I'd like to commit to a one-time thing." He suggested $35,000 as a one-time contribution toward the project for the 2006 budget year. He suggested the board could look at another request the following year. "It's probably a one-time thing," Gustafson said. "I can't guarantee we'll do anything like that." Gustafson further qualified that the county's contribution would depend on Marathon's receiving a CAT grant.
The board agreed to the $35,000 one-time allocation for 2006, with no guarantee of funding beyond that amount. The board also agreed to allow Marathon to dump brick and mortar in a rubble pit west of Poland Township park.