Surprise surplus causes Kenny confusion

The Kenny Neighborhood Association has run into a unique difficulty — it has a budget surplus.

For years, the KNA board had mistakenly paid for Neighborhood Revitalization Program items out of their own neighborhood association funds. That means KNA has spent less of their neighborhood funds over the years to sustain their organization.

KNA’s new NRP coordinator and treasurer discovered the misappropriation, leaving the group with an unexpected $8,000 surplus. In addition to the neighborhood-fund surplus, the group has $200,000 of unspent NRP money.

KNA board president Dan Quirk said because of the twin surpluses, the board was unprepared for an avalanche of community requests, including Kenny Community School, 5720 Emerson Ave. S.

KNA had been operating on a first-come, first-served basis, but soon realized they needed more comprehensive rules.

"We have to make sure we don’t blow through this money," he said. "We just can’t be a funding source."

Wendy Weimer, Kenny’s principal, said her school has received KNA support on projects from the school carnival to the school garden. "They’ve been very receptive when we’ve made small proposals," she said.

However, Weimer said KNA has turned down larger requests, such as $10,000 for a computer lab.

"I think the public maybe sees KNA as being very frugal with their KNA money," she said.

Quirk said the $200,000 NRP allocation is already earmarked for neighborhood improvement incentives and to change it would involve rewriting the whole plan, which he said they could not do.

"There is a misconception on the part of the Kenny school that our NRP money is available and that the KNA board can authorize the creation of new spending objectives," Quirk said. "Even if we could give the school more NRP money, the KNA board has a responsibility to implement the plan as approved by the neighborhood."

Quirk said that the neighborhood fund, which can be used for helping the school, is primarily to sustain the organization. "We spend that money on things like signs and the newsletter," he said.

He said the confusion is prompting action.

"We are going to go to a once or twice a year application -review process contingent on available funds," he said.

Weimer praised KNA’s past support and agrees that the group needs a procedure. She said she’d happily take part in that process.

Quirk said the plan will be discussed at the next KNA meeting Tuesday July 16, 7 p.m. at 5516 Lyndale Ave. S.