Dubuque City Council members intend to provide additional support to two nonprofits identified as priorities in this year’s goal-setting session.

After three sessions this week totaling about 13 hours, council members settled on six top-priority and six high-priority projects and programs for the city for 2019 to 2021. Those rankings will help guide decision-making and budgeting efforts.

Council members answered a call from Dubuque Dream Center supporters in designating it and its programs as a top priority.

The center provides academic, athletic and arts programming aimed at youth development, especially for the city’s most underserved demographics. Its team of staff and volunteers have grown their programs from serving about 30 children in 2013 to 180 this year — all in an aging building at 1600 White St.

According to Executive Director Robert Kimble, that building needs more upkeep and upgrades than his organization can provide. So, in mid-July, he sent out a call for supporters to encourage City Council members to include seed money for the organization as a priority this year.

This week, four of seven council members mentioned Dream Center support as one of their personal priorities.

“Their programming, the metrics for their success and the progress they’re showing are impressive,” Mayor Roy Buol said. “It isn’t just a place for kids to go to play and learn. The whole family gets involved. It was strongly supported, which is a direct result of the results they’re getting and the vision they have for the future. This is going to pay big dividends.”

An action plan

One other nonprofit — Fountain of Youth — garnered significant support. Council members named the personal development organization as one of six high priorities for the coming years.

A letter from Executive Director Caprice Jones outlined the organization’s goals of expanding staff and finding a new, long-term location downtown.

Several council members wished to group the support of Fountain of Youth and Dream Center together as one priority. But Council Member David Resnick reminded the others that the organizations compete for resources along with other nonprofits.

City employees would like a specific funding request from Dream Center officials so any assistance can be included in the budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1. They also want specific outcomes and alternative funding sources identified.

They also asked council members to have Fountain of Youth leaders identify their funding needs.

Emerald ash borer makes list

Council members also named the city’s emerald ash borer program to its list of top priorities. This is a broad attempt to recover from the destruction caused in recent years by the tree-killing insect, which has quickly spread across the U.S.

Hundreds of city trees have been damaged or killed by the pests and need to be dealt with — not least because of liability to the city.

“If we know these trees are out there and don’t get them to the top of the list and there is damage — be that bodily or property — there are impacts to us,” said City Attorney Crenna Brumwell.

Right now, there is a long backlog.

“(City crews) triage (trees), prioritize them, but can never get past a certain level because those coming in are urgent,” Brumwell said. “We’re going to hit crisis mode where we’ve been monitoring them so long they’re going to come down.”

She said part of the problem is there is a shortage of contractors to help workers clear these trees.

City workers were directed to consider all facets of this problem under the ash borer program, including an initiative to replace the city’s canopy, which has been depleted over the years.

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