Rochester, MN City Council Overrides Mayor’s Open Gym Veto
The veto and override stem from a Counsel Initiated Action brought forward by 5th Ward Councilmember Shaun Palmer. It authorized the use of $50,000 from the city's contingency account to fund a 30-week pilot program to make Rochester School District gym space available for public use.
Mayor Norton vetoed the action last month saying she supported programs that offer more opportunities for young people in the community, but said she is concerned about using a Council Initiated Action to direct the expenditure of city funds without more discussion and, “without weighing priorities as we make budget decisions we can lose our focus and credibility with the community."
She said during Monday night’s meeting that her veto was not about keeping kids out of gyms, “This is about who should fund that and how it should be funded and what kind of process we should use to do it,” Norton said.
The mayor said several non profits in the community have offered to open their gym space to Rochester’s youth. She says she’s been working to get the community’s gyms open to the public without the city having to pay for it.
Palmer responded the proposal is just a pilot program and that he does not foresee the city needing to do the council initiated action in regards to gym space again, “It’s either going to take off or if we can get other non-profits to do it and we can save some money I have no problem with it whatsoever,” Palmer said. “In fact I would be more than happy to have people do that.”
The city council voted 6-0 to override the mayor’s veto. The proposed schedule sets the open gyms for Saturday afternoons at four Rochester elementary schools that will be selected based on their availability during the 2023-24 school year.
Rochester Public Schools will invoice the city for the cost of staffing the open gyms. The cost for participants would be $1, according to city council records.