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Sheldon plan laid out

The City Council agreed Monday to a four-part plan to fund and complete Sheldon Theatre work and improvements.

The Sheldon Board had previously approved the proposal, which lays out a timeline and funding plans to complete capital work at the theater.

Part one involves using state Legacy funds for masonry work, to be completed in the spring of 2015, Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said. The most recent funding request has the city dedicating $520,000 in capital improvement project funding for the work with $250,000 from the state, though that could be higher, Kuhlmann said.

The second part of the plan is for lights and sound improvements. The council agreed to front $260,000 from the 2014 budget, coming from the general contingency fund, for the work. The Sheldon will provide $60,000 from private funders, and the city will be reimbursed $140,000 of its contribution as the Sheldon raises more funds, so the city’s net cost would be $120,000, Kuhlmann said.

“I think that’s a good private/public match,” Council member Ralph Rauterkus said.

There was some question as to whether lighting and sound fell under capital or operational costs, and Council member Peggy Rehder said it appears to be a gray area.

“It doesn’t clearly fall in either of those things,” she said.

Council President Lisa Bayley said she believed it was more of an operational expense, but “I’d say, ‘So what.’” The city must provide for capital costs, but “that doesn’t mean we can’t provide for other areas,” she said.

The lighting and sound work would be done yet this year, likely in stages, Sheldon Executive Director Sean Dowse said. He said the improvements will make the theater more competitive and provide a better audience experience.

Part three of the overall plan involves the city budgeting about $250,000 for roof repairs, window repairs and replacements and ticket office work in the 2015 capital budget, which members will be discussing and finalizing in coming months.

The final piece involves seeking state bonding funds in 2016 for other work including bathroom upgrades, flooring, plaster and painting and conference room and office work. If state bonding money isn’t allotted, the city still would fund the projects in 2016 under the plan, Kuhlmann said.

“There has been a tremendous amount of time and energy put into this,” Rehder, liaison to the Sheldon Board, said, and everyone might not be getting exactly what they want but it will get critical work done at the theater.

“I can’t say how much we appreciate the offer from the private funders to help with fundraising,” Bayley added.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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