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FTC greenlights matching funds for center
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MONROE - An offer to donate up to $130,000 with matching city funds for upgrades to the Behring Senior Center is going to the Common Council.

Members of the city's Finance and Taxation Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend council approval to accept the offer by Kenneth Behring. The money is to go first toward replacing an aged elevator and expanding the center's parking lots. Any remaining money is to be used for other improvements to the center.

Behring made his offer in a letter to the Senior Citizens Board, dated Aug. 1.

Tammy Derrickson, director of the Behring Senior Center, presented the Senior Citizens Board's request for matching funds and outlined the estimated costs for the two identified projects. No project bids have been requested yet.

City Administrator Phil Rath suggested the city use money from the city's undesignated fund balance, which is over $1 million, to match the donation. Behring's offer does not permit matching with use of funds the center already has. Replacing the center's elevator and expanding its parking lot are in the city's five-year capital plan but are scheduled in years beyond 2014 and 2015.

"This is a very generous offer from Mr. Behring, who has already contributed so much (to the senior center)," said Alderman Brook Bauman, who chaired the meeting Tuesday.

The city has considered investigating the idea of moving its senior center to a new or larger facility. Bauman said the replacements of the decades-old elevator and parking lot would help with resale of the building if the center ever has to move. She also noted that it would be more cost effective to accept the offer and do the projects now than to come up with the needed funds in the event of an emergency repair or replacement.

According to Derrickson, the elevator was installed in 1980 and does not meet safety codes - including the lack of an emergency stop, but it is "grandfathered in" to meet acceptable inspections. When the elevator car is replaced, its motor room must also be revamped to meet fire codes. The motor room will require a fire wall, a fireproof ceiling and an air cooling duct system. The estimated cost totals about $120,000.

The center's board has been contemplating the need for more parking for the past couple of years. Plans for an expansion would include as many as 20 more spaces. The cost of replacing and expanding parking lots is about $140,000. Derrickson is investigating the potential savings by having the work on the lots done "in house" with use of the city street department.

Acceptance of the donation and authorization of the matching funds is expected to go before the Common Council for approval on Oct. 21.