Vice Mayor Linda Ryno was the only member of the Ceres City Council opposed to replacing 550 Ceres Community Center chairs at the meeting of May 28.
Ryno said she was under the assumption that the council was to reevaluate the operation of the center as she cited the financial drain on city coffers.
“Haven’t we been discussing about having a discussion on what we’re going to do with the Community Center because it’s so much in the red?” asked Ryno.
City Manager Toby Wells said there has been an ongoing discussion with new Recreation Manager Matt Lohr working on ideas to increase revenue linked with usage. He said it’s expected to be brought to the council “in the very near future.”
Ryno replied: “So that would make me pause and say why would we spend $41,000 when we don’t know what the future of our Community Center is?”
She went on to cite the center’s $1,635,624 cumulative loss over a 10-year period which increases to $1,748,905 next year.
Ryno also noted how the city may shut down the computer lab because of the cost of replacement computers. “I’d hate to see us spend $41,000 and then have a discussion in a couple of months that maybe we need to do something else. To me it just seems like it would not be a good way to spend $41,000 if we’re not even sure what we’re going to do with the facility.”
Wells replied that the council has never entertained the idea of closing the center to where the chairs would never be used.
“The expectation was changing revenue, changing expenditures to ensure we try to get closer to a balance,” said Wells. “Having chairs that allows us to better use the facility and that we could rent it more is focusing on the revenue side.”
Ryno then asked “So you think if we have nicer chairs we’re going to rent it more?” To that Wells said the chairs are 10 years old and in need of replacement and noted “having nicer chairs doesn’t hurt.”
Councilman Bret Durossette said he doesn’t want to see the center “at all.”
“When I drive by here this place is completely packed almost every single day, except on Sundays,” said Durossette. “I know we have a possibility of a new tenant coming in on Sundays that’s also going to fuel our pockets with money.”
The chairs would be delivered in eight weeks from order.
“Our rentals are up and I think we have a good plan and hopefully in a couple of years to address some of the expenses with revenue,” said Lohr. “A lot of opportunity I see.”
Ceres resident Gene Yeakley rose to defend the purchase, saying he complained months ago about the condition of the chairs. He said the chairs were all stained and “looks like a health problem.”
The old chairs will be declared surplus and sold for about $2 per chair.
Wells said the new chairs will be of a different fabric, stain-proof vinyl.
Supporting the chair purchase were Mayor Chris Vierra and Councilmembers Durossette, Channce Condit and Mike Kline.