Rochester mayor vetoes plan to fund $50,000 open-gym pilot at local schools
Mayor Norton said more discussion with community partners is needed before committing funds for fall program.
ROCHESTER — A proposal for the city to fund 30 weeks of open-gym time in Rochester schools has been nixed — at least temporarily.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton vetoed a Rochester City Council plan to spend up to $50,000 to partner with the school district, citing support for the effort but questioning the timing.
“This veto will provide the additional time needed to work with community partners to determine need and evaluate space in the community that might be available with less cost and more partnership support,” she wrote in the memo connected to her veto on Sunday.
Council member Shaun Palmer said the program approved in a 5-1 vote on May 15 is in response to community needs.
“We’ve heard from many people about the lack of availability of gym space in Rochester, so we kind of scratched our heads and (council member Mark) Bransford and I met with the superintendent, who had the same type of goal to do a pilot program,” he said.
Palmer said Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Kent Pekel had indicated he talked with Norton about the concept.
Norton acknowledged the discussions, but said the city has other potential needs for the funds, including addressing downtown recovery efforts and housing needs.
Norton’s veto is her fourth since being elected in 2018, with only one of the first three being overturned.
During the council’s next meeting on June 5, members will have the option to seek a vote to reinstate the proposed pilot program. Five council members are required to reverse a veto.
During the May 15 council meeting, Council President Brooke Carlson voted against the proposed pilot program, suggesting the council should scale back the plan, and council member Dennis voiced some concerns about the proposal before eventually voting to support it.
Others voiced differing views of potential implementation.
“I had more of an idea with council member (Kelly Rae) Kirkpatrick, that it was an open gym and a family could show up. … Council member (Norman) Wahl pictures a team coming,” council member Patrick Keane said.
“We all have different ideas of what we are talking about,” he added.
City Administrator Alison Zelms said the uncertainty regarding need and operational guidelines for an open-gym program is why a pilot program is being considered, according to Palmer's proposal.
“What I’m reading here is it would pretty much be a transaction and reporting of whether or not they reach $45,000, and we would be getting information about funding,” she said, pointing out the school district would determine how the program operates.
Mayoral Veto Memo by randy on Scribd