Skyway Senior Center seeking $12,500 from city for new chairs

The proposed 2016 city budget includes $12,500 for 10 new chairs in the UCare Skyway Senior Center.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) questioned the expense given the uncertain future of the center at the City Council’s Ways & Means-Budget Subcommittee meeting on Friday, Sept. 18.  

The skyway center, which opened in 2001, has $176,000 in funding from UCare through the end of the year and $10,000 from Augustana Care, according to a budget presentation by the city’s Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant.

The state recently dropped UCare for state public health insurance programs — a move that could result in significant layoffs for the organization. Musicant said she’ll be meeting with UCare and Friends of the Skyway Senior Center on Oct. 5 to discuss its future.

“I don’t think we should be funding $1,250 chairs there when we don’t know exactly what’s going to be happening with the senior center,” Goodman said, who added she’s a big supporter of the Skyway Senior Center but said it’s not the city’s role to fund nonprofits. “That’s going to be a tough decision to make, but we’re not the funder of last resort.”

The Skyway Senior Center has 18,000 visitors a year and its “residential-grade furniture” is in need of replacement, according to Musicant’s budget presentation.

Overall, the proposed 2016 budget for the Health Department is roughly $19.8 million, which includes $8.8 million from the city’s general fund and $11 million of outside funding sources.

Hodges’ proposed budget for the Health Department also includes $30,000 in ongoing funding for targeted home visits as part of the Cradle to K initiative; $75,000 in ongoing funding to support an additional 50 families for a support program for parents of adolescents as part of youth violence prevention; $50,000 for one-time funding for a 4H program for Somali youth; $25,000 in one-time funding for a violence intervention pilot project at HCMC targeting 120 young people who have been assaulted; $150,000 for additional lead hazard prevention work; $75,000 in ongoing funding for a community liaison to help small and immigrant-owned businesses comply with city health regulations; $60,000 in ongoing funding for customer service worker to process permits and licenses, among other things; $34,000 for community outreach related to the city’s two-year air quality study; and $75,000 in ongoing funding for the Green Business Matching Grant program, which helps local businesses reduce air pollutants. 

Budget hearings will continue throughout the fall. The City Council is scheduled to vote on adopting the 2016 city budget on Dec. 9.