Hobart eyes changes to Reiner Center funding
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent September 1, 2012 4:40PM
Updated: October 2, 2012 6:07AM
HOBART — Seniors could pay more than $15 in dues for membership to the Maria Reiner Center next year, if the City Council approves an ordinance that council president Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said he will propose at the council meeting Wednesday night.
Vinzant told the Reiner Center board during its meeting Friday he will introduce an ordinance that allows that board to set dues at whatever amount it deems appropriate, eliminating the 50 percent increase annual cap the council originally imposed on the center’s dues.
The center’s dues are now $10 a year for Hobart residents and $20 a year for nonresidents. With the limit, dues could only increase to $15 a year for residents.
“Taking that language away allows you flexibility to run the center,” said Mayor Brian Snedecor, who like Vinzant and councilman Mathew Claussen, D-at large, said he supports the one-year-old center but wants it to eventually be self-funding.
Reiner Center Chairman Tom Ehrhardt said the board will establish dues that are fair and modest, based on the recommendation of its advisory board and Reiner Center Executive Director Pam Broadaway.
“I don’t think they’ll be substantially different,” Broadaway said.
The mayor also suggested the $35,000 salary for the center’s executive director be placed in both the mayor’s portion of the city’s general fund and the Reiner Center budget, with the money coming out of the center budget first and then general fund if needed.
The mayor had warned that both budgets could be cut later, depending on funding.
“We would love to fully fund the center, but the money budgeted may not be 100 percent funded. Still, the center is pretty high on our priority list. It touches thousands of lives in Hobart,” Claussen said.
The Reiner Center board voted to approve the mayor’s suggestion, with the change that the money come out of the general fund first, then the center budget.
Broadaway and Ehrhardt had gone before the City Council at its last meeting asking that Broadaway’s salary continue to be paid from the general fund instead of the Reiner Center fund for 2013. Broadaway, who was the center’s sole employee last year, said she spent most of her time organizing programs and events and had little time doing the fundraising that is also part of her job.
“It was never our intention to come back to the city every year and ask for help. This is meant to be self-funding, and I absolutely believe it will be,” Broadaway said.
The city last year loaned money to the center to get it up and running. A Legacy Foundation grant, dues, donors and fundraising pay for much of the center’s costs, but the grant can’t go to salaries.
Vinzant also asked for a business plan so the council could see where any shortfall is and where it needs to help. Ehrhardt said a business plan would be more long-term and not for just next year.