Council Says NO to Human Shelter

Negative Motion Passes to Deny Personal Development Center Funding.

 

DEVELOPING STORY – FOLLOW US FOR UPDATES AND COMMENTS

Tonight Common Council heard from Renee Schulz, Executive Director of the Personal Development Center (PDC), a request to consider a one-time donation (2018) of $80,000 for the re-purposing of the transitional shelter with a $20,000 annual allocation (beginning 2019) to support safe housing for victims in our community.

St. Vincent DePaul (SVDP) Family Shelter closed on December 5, 2017 and at this time is sitting vacant. PDC has been working closely with the SVDP Board of Directors to acquire the facility for expanded domestic violence services, including temporary safe housing for victims and their children. This new venture will provide increased safety as well as comprehensive and accessible programming to promote healing, empowerment, and resiliency to move beyond the trauma of abuse to a safe, healthy, and productive future.

The facility location and layout are ideal for PDC, with minimal necessary improvements for PDC specific programming (i.e. controlled internal access points, increased security, etc.); however, additional funding is needed to bring this venture to fruition. Costs include $80,000 to acquire the facility; approximately $150,000 for building modifications/moving expenses/added security; and approximately $150,000 annually to provide shelter staff and 24-hour coverage.

Vote On First Motion To Postpone

Alderman Hendler made the first motion to postpone  considerations to the next council meeting in April, due to this being a sensitive issue and to allow for the elections to take place. Candidate for Mayor and Alderman Tom Witzel made a second. Alderman Witzel said “Generally these type of issues are handled at the county level.” Renee commented that they are on a very tight timeline and their current building is already leased. They need to be moved into the transitional shelter by May 1st and are looking to close on the property this Thursday.

Alderman Buttke said “I want to do this so bad, but I can’t. Great idea, I so much want to help the people. But again the list is going to be so long for the people coming to us.” Alderman Zaleski echoed Buttke’s comment and added, There is a list of things within the city that we have crossed off the list, because of funding or lack of funding during the past few months and that weighs heavy on me.”

In further discussion Mayor Meyer asked for consideration from the council after handing over the chair to Common Council President Wagner. The motion failed 3 – 6, after only gaining additional support from Alderman Earll.

Alderman Wiztel Makes Second on Postponing Consideration

A second motion was brought forward by Alderman Wagner after Mayor Meyer resumed chair. The motion  to fund the one-time donation of $80,000 failed due to lack of a second. In previous discussion the City Administrator informed the Council, that the funding would have to come out of contingency. This would exhaust the contingency fund after the additional funding resolutions that were passed this evening.

Vote on 3rd Motion to Deny Funding

A third motion was brought forward by Buttke to deny funding, seconded by Spiros. The negative motion passed.

Mayor Chris Meyer thanked Renee after the vote for coming and spoke directly to the member of the Common Council. The Mayor said “That in ten years that I have never been this disappointed in a Common Council for completely failing to stand up to the requirements that they have in front of them. You are a governing body for a community that put money forward  to build this facility and tonight you took the chicken way out and I am disappointed.”

Follow us as we cover more of this story.

 

OnFocus has asked for comment from each member of Common Council. This will be updated live as they provide comment.

District Member Comment
1st Michael J. Feirer – No Comment At This Time –
2nd Nick Poeschel – No Comment At This Time –
3rd Chris Jockheck – No Comment At This Time –
4th Gordon H. Earll – No Comment At This Time –
5th Ed Wagner – No Comment At This Time –
6th Tom Witzel

I am saddened that we in this community need this shelter and the services provided by shelters such as this.  The decision of whether or not to honor the request from PDC for funding was very difficult.  As a council, I believe we all would have loved to support this. – submitted at 2:57 pm CST 3/28/18

7th Jason Zaleski

I have been a PDC fund raising volunteer in the past and look forward to help private fundraising again. ​It has been my understanding, as said by the mayor many times, that these requests fall under the responsibility of the county. We learned tonight from the PDC Executive Director, Renee Schulz, that it has been some time since the PDC has requested the needed funds from the county. I have since offered to help Ms. Schulz communicate with the county in an effort to get the needed funds.

8th Rebecca Spiros

I think everyone on the entire Common Council applauds the work of the PDC and recognizes the work that they do. Tonight, we had to make a very tough decision. As elected officials of the City, we must understand the statutory requirements for health and human service fall to the county. Additionally, we also need to be aware of setting a precedence in giving away tax-payor funded dollars. There are many worthy causes out there and picking and choosing who to support could become very slippery ground. Lastly, from a financial standpoint, it would be irresponsible for the City to draw our Contingency Fund balance down to nearly nothing with only a quarter of the year gone. While I recognize Mayor Meyer’s disappointment, the CC certainly did not “take the chicken way out” but, instead made a tough, fiscally conservative decision, that undoubtedly was difficult for all of us.

9th Tom Buttke – No Comment At This Time –
10th Peter O. Hendler – No Comment At This Time –

 

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