Suggestions for senior dining
RIVERSIDE—Citizens came to the city council meeting Monday night to ask the council members to reconsider their decision to end the senior dining program and provided the council some options to look into.
Marilyn Eagle, senior dining site manager, asked the council to try to keep the senior dining program in Riverside. She also asked the council to look into other options instead of just ending the program altogether.
Eagle then introduced Bill Halleran to the council. Halleran is one of the attendees of the senior dining program, and he began looking at other options for the senior dining program after he spoke with Eagle. He gave the council a few suggestions at the meeting.
The suggestions include: partnering with Washington’s senior dining program, partnering with the Highland Community School District to provide the meals, or having Murphy’s Bar & Grill prepare the meals for senior dining.
Councilor Ralph Schnoebelen asked Halleran and Eagle about the attendance. Eagle said there are a couple of regulars who come to the meals and a few new faces, but the weather this winter has affected the attendance.
“Yeah the weather hasn’t been the most promising,” Schnoebelen said. “I had a couple attendees who made some calls last night—I think we need to definitely pursue everything we can to keep it going.”
Mayor Bill Poch asked Halleran to work with City Administrator Rusty Rogerson with the options for the senior dining and bring the costs back to the council so they could possibly make a decision.
Schnoebelen agreed with Poch. He made a motion to have Halleran, Eagle, and Rogerson work together and bring more information back to the next meeting.
“I’d like to keep the program going the best we can,” Schnoebelen said. “Let’s not do away with it, let’s continue.”
Poch asked if there were any other questions or comments from the council and Councilor Nate Kasdorf said yes. Kasdorf
said the council had been talking about the senior dining program for three months and agreed with other council members that he would like to see it continue.
“But we have this in the budget right now that’s going to be approved tonight
[the resolution to set the date for the public hearing],” Kasdorf said, “and after tonight this cannot get raised. It can only get lower and I don’t think the money that we have in there for this next year —I don’t know if that’s going to be enough.” Dawn McCoy asked the council how much money was in the budget for senior dining for the next fiscal year. Schnoebelen said it was $6,000.
“We need to raise the price then,” Eagle said. “Is that for the rest of the year?”
“Starting July 1,” Schnoebelen said.
McCoy asked the council to continue the program and consider all the possibilities.
“I think we owe it to our seniors to provide some kind of program that’s specifically for them,” McCoy said. “I’m finally at that age that I can go to senior dining and you have the baby boomers that are coming up.”
McCoy said she hoped the baby boomers would start to utilize the program and offered to be on the committee. She said she would like to start working on the fundraising process for the senior dining program as well.
Poch said the program wasn’t just for seniors but open and available to anyone to attend. He suggested the name be changed to community dining instead.
Halleran asked when the funding would end. Rogerson said the program is scheduled to end March 28.
“So for the next April, May, June — three months, we’re operating how?” Halleran asked.
“You’re not,” said Councilor Chris Kirkwood said. “As of the end of this month we made a motion to end it.
City clerk Lory Rogers said with the expenses now the city is paying $17 a meal for the senior dining program.
Rogerson said he has spoken with Elder Care in Iowa City about providing the meals possibly beginning April 1. Elder Care would transport the meals from Iowa City to Riverside and would have USDA-approved meals. He would know more by the next city council meeting.
Councilor Tom Sexton asked how much participants pay when they come to a meal. Eagle said the cost was $3 currently.
“If you go to $5 will the same amount of people still come?” Poch asked.
“I have no idea,” Eagle said.
Sexton asked what the numbers for attendance were. Rogerson and Young said the council members already received that information. Poch asked one of them to get that information because there were people attending the meeting who may not know that information.
“It doesn’t matter,” Kasdorf said. “I just want to vote on it.”
“Well, but this is a public meeting,” Poch said.
Kasdorf cut Poch off and said the discussion had gone on long enough.
“We’ve already talked about it,” Kasdorf said. “Everything I’ve heard, I’ve heard it twice.”
“Nate, this is an important thing,” Poch said.
“This is not a good use of the council’s time right here,” Kasdorf said.
Poch and Kasdorf argued for a couple of more minutes. Poch said this was an excellent use of the council’s time and it was important for the senior citizens in town. Kasdorf said again he just wanted to vote on the motion.
“Now we’ve got some citizens that want to give us some feedback and I’m here and want to listen to what they have to say and that’s the way it’s going to be,” Poch said.
Poch asked if anyone else had comments for the council to hear. Rosemary Waldschmidt went to the podium.
“I’ve gone to this program since 1988 when I retired,” she said. “Anyway, I’d hate to see it not continue because I’m getting out of the house once a day to be with people and I’d just like to continue going.”
Waldschmidt said having a meal provided to her for $3 or $5 is reasonable and people are lucky to have that option.
Diane Poch said she would also like to see the program continue and felt the weather has played a part in declining attendance this year.
Bill Poch called for a vote on the motion for the study. The motion passed unanimously.
Other items covered at the city council meeting included:
approving the resolution to hold the public hearing for the 2014-15 fiscal year budget March 14 at 6 p.m;
approving a resolution for the city to send a letter to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to not approve the proposed Cedar Rapids Casino;
approving a resolution for the law enforcement contract with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department for $39,693 for the next fiscal year;
approving the communications contract for $39,693 with the Washington County Communications Center for the next fiscal year;
and approved having a separate account set up with the bank for the community center building fund and to deposit the check from William Shatner of $120,041.85 into that account.
The next meeting is a public hearing on the budget on March 14 at 6 p.m. A regularly scheduled city council meeting will be held on Monday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m.