City moves forward with plans to take over Delano Senior Center

November 12, 2007

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Delano City Council continued to move forward with plans to take over the Delano Senior Center at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The council authorized city staff to begin managing the senior center Jan. 1, 2008, or sooner, depending on the operation from Senior Community Services (SCS).

At the meeting, approval was also given to hire Gail Sinkel, Linda Zimmermann, and Beth Walkman for positions of senior center coordinator, transportation coordinator, and bus/van driver. Approval was made contingent upon successful lease negotiation with SCS.

The City of Delano currently contracts with SCS for the operation of the senior center and transportation program. SCS learned in October the Metropolitan Council would no longer be providing funding for Delano’s transportation program, which is currently funded at $75,803 per year.

Early messages received by the city from SCS indicated the transportation program may be in jeopardy, and staffing likely couldn’t stay the same in 2008.

In a memo drafted for the city council, Delano City Administrator Phil Kern said the city conveyed the importance of maintaining the center functions at a high level – as well as the necessity of maintaining transportation.

The city has prepared a plan that would maintain most of the staffing currently in place at the center, with the exception of two part-time positions.

Some cross training will be done with existing city staff, and conversations have taken place with Wright County and other neighboring government bodies about assisting financially, and have been received with positive feedback.

In the memo, Kern said city staff is aware SCS is working on developing an alternative plan, which is anticipated would involve making up the $75,000-plus in funding cut from the Metropolitan Council. Since conversation in early October, Kern said a plan has not been submitted to Delano for maintaining the desired level of service.

Kern said SCS has provided a great level of service to the Delano Community for the past 25-plus years, but at this time, the city feels it can more effectively operate the center.

The next step – hiring Sinkel, Zimmermann, and Walkman for operation of the center – will help the city maintain the high level of service currently offered to local seniors.

The three will be credited for the amount of years of service under the city’s personnel policy that they have provided at the senior center while working for SCS.