Four entities seek Akron’s LOST dollars

Posted March 6, 2014 at 6:00 am

By Julie Ann Madden

Each year the City of Akron receives Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue, and Akron councilors decide how it’s spent.

At their Feb. 11 meeting, councilors heard four requests for grants of these LOST dollars.

To request LOST funding grants, entities must provide city officials with their organization’s financial statements.

They took all the requests under advisement as the city’s Finance Committee is still working out the details for the 2014-2015 city budget.

Akron Children’s Center

The Akron Children’s Center was founded in 1990 with children being cared for in the Wesley United Methodist Church annex.

In 2003, the private nonprofit organization built a new children’s center at 270 N. Fourth St. with funding provided by a Community Development Block Grant and a USDA Rural Development loan with a 4.5 percent interest rate.

The loan has an annual payment of principal and interest totalling $19,284.

Originally, the council made a 10-year commitment of $12,000 from Akron’s LOST dollars. Last year that commitment ended.

The center’s seven-member Board of Directors, through Board President Curt Harris, requested the council consider continuing the $12,000 LOST gift, which would be used to help pay the annual loan payment.

The center is a licensed childcare center, overseen by the Iowa Department of Human Services. It is licensed for up to 80 children and currently has 66 enrolled, serving 53 families.

Akron Children’s Center has an annual budget of about $350,000. In 2013, revenues totaled $345,420 while total expenses were $354,309 for a net loss of $8,889.

Harris explained it looks like a negative year-end balance.

“We’re in our second year of a modified accrual accounting system,” said Harris. “What you’re seeing (with the negative balance) is the cash basis for the Year 2013.”

Two years ago, the Akron Children’s Center became involved in the statewide Preschool Grant through the Iowa Department of Education, he explained. The way it’s funded is the state sends the money to the school district. The expenditures for equipment and children’s supplies are made in one fiscal year, and the state dollars are received in another.

“Typically no, (we don’t operate at a loss),” said Harris, “but with the new system, it makes a mess of our accounting.”

Akron Historical Society

The Akron Historical Society requested two separate LOST grants:

• $1,500 for landscaping to replace the shrubs and plants destroyed by repairing of the Akron Area Museum’s porch and exterior painting of the three-story mansion, located at 601 Main St.

• $1,500 for storm window replacement. The mansion’s wooden storm windows are 40 to 50 years old and are deteriorating.

According to Society member Angela Price, the storm windows need replaced with combination windows. The members had received bids ranging from $140 in Sioux City to $168 per window locally.

Price told the council she prefers to keep the money local, and that if there was any money leftover from landscaping, they would put it toward storm windows.

Financially, the nonprofit organization began the year with $8,274.80 in checking and $2,433.29 in savings. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the checking balance was $5,760.14 and there were $936.10 in savings. Income totaled $21,719.17 and expenditures were $25,730.82 in 2013.

Price noted it’s been an expensive couple of years with the mansion’s porch replacement; roof replacement; and painting of the exterior.

She also informed the council she had checked into grants for the landscaping but hasn’t received any.

Akron Opera House

Akron Opera House Board member Karen Taylor-Mortensen presented their request for $15,000 to replace four of the five 35-year-old furnaces which heat the 108-year-old theater building.

These four furnaces heat the main part of the theater building. The fifth furnace provides heat for the kitchen, bathrooms and box office area. Although this area’s furnace’s pilot light goes out every time there is wind, the board doesn’t want to do much in this area as they are planning to renovate this area, hopefully in the near future.

This was a “loose estimate” as more funding may be needed for unforeseen issues such as new electrical wiring, a larger gas meter and new gas lines, said Taylor-Mortensen, adding last year the council was generous in gifting $5,000 toward the theater’s $45,000 project for exterior building brick tuck pointing and wall and window repairs.

As of Jan. 23, 2014, the Akron Opera House has $12,304.25 in checking with $21.62 in savings.

There are no outstanding debts presently, reported Akron Opera House Board Treasurer Tim Blum in the financial statement. Normal monthly debts for utilities and costs for shows are the only anticipated expenses at this time. Monthly rental income of $400 is the only regular income. Income from future shows is expected but cannot be accurately estimated.

Horton told Taylor-Mortensen the Akron Opera House still had $5,000 in LOST funds to spend by July 1 or it could be set aside for next year.

Helping Hands

Thrift Store

Although there was no representative at the meeting, City Administrator Gary Horton explained Manager Vivian Miller had visited with him earlier in the day.

Helping Hands Thrift Store needs a new furnace. It was noted they had replaced another furnace a couple years ago.

The group was considering a combination heating and air conditioning system, possibly an air-to-air heat pump. They weren’t sure whether they would go with another furnace or the heat pump.

Miller had requested $500 toward this project, estimated to cost $4,500, and they would raise the rest of the funding.

The Helping Hands Thrift Store began 2013 with a checking balance of $2,211.24 and ended the year with a balance of $1,539.08. However, they had received $17,526.36 in donations and sales and had $3,548.52 of expenditures. They gave proceeds of $14,650 to the Akron Children’s Center.

Akron Summer

Detour

City Clerk Melea Nielsen reported the council had received a request from Akron Summer Detour coordinators. They were asking if the city would like to have a booth at their April 12 Second Annual Spring Bazaar and Home Show and if the council would like to be a sponsor of the Akron Summer Detour celebration, which will be held July 17 – 20.

There were four levels of sponsorship: $400, $200, $100 or under $100.

The council’s consensus was to wait to discuss these until after city officials’ received the group’s financial statements.

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