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City considering partnership with Albert Lea Family Y for senior center

The city of Albert Lea is considering partnering with an organization such as the Albert Lea Family Y to manage the Senior Center at Skyline Plaza.

City Manager Ian Rigg said during the Albert Lea City Council workshop Monday he and recreation manager Bob Furland recently met with Dennis Dieser, director of the Y in Albert Lea, to discuss how the two entities could share services and reduce duplications of effort. He said he thought the partnership would enhance a service the city already provides.

Though they initially considered fitting Senior Center activities at the Y, they found there was not enough room there, so the city would likely keep the Senior Center at Skyline Plaza, Rigg said.

If the city partnered with the Y, the city would continue to pay to rent the facility and would pay for utilities, internet, phone, maintenance, cleaning and for up to $30,000 for contracted services through the Y. The city would still be able to keep revenues from other after-hours rentals of the space and would oversee special events and out-of-town trips.

The Y would supply the staff and materials needed for regular programming and could help with record keeping, tracking usage and other tasks such as the regular newsletter, Rigg and Dieser said.

Rigg said the city could save about $15,000 a year, including costs of rentals, which could be used for added programming or during economic shortfalls.

The city manager said in a memo to city staff and the council that the Y presently receives insurance reimbursement for operating activities with seniors, and managing the Senior Center could improve its revenue stream as well. The service the Y provides seniors regarding nutrition and exercise can also carry over to improve services at both locations.

“The approach to this was not to cut the funding provided, but better use funds and where savings are created, expand or strengthen service,” Rigg wrote.

The effort could also help grow the membership of both organizations.

Rigg said if this was something the council wanted to consider, the city would have to put out an official request for qualifications and proceed from there.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland said he thought it would also be a good opportunity for the Senior Center to rebrand itself moving into the future.