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Be careful about funding

December 9, 2012
The Leader Herald

The Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County should not expect Gloversville taxpayers to be a source of funding, at least while the city continues to be in perilous financial shape.

Eugene Reppenhagen, the president of the center's Board of Directors, said the center would like the city to contribute $10,000. The city currently provides the center - which is a private, nonprofit organization - with no funding.

To some people, it might appear Gloversville has the money to give. The city's $15.4 million budget for 2013 includes no tax increases or layoffs. The city used more than $500,000 from its fund balance in the 2013 budget. Mayor Dayton King noted that should still leave the city with about $2 million in the fund balance at the end of this year.

However, the city has created a budget with a property-tax rate for 2013 of $21.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It's the same rate as this year's, but it's still high, and it creates a huge financial burden for property owners. The tax rate should be reduced before new unnecessary items are added to the budget.

City officials have not yet committed to giving the center money. First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth wisely noted to Reppenhagen the council would like to meet with the board to discuss where the senior center stands financially before providing money.

To the center's credit, it appears to have tried to save money where possible and has not avoided making hard decisions to try to keep the center open. The most notable recent example was the board's decision to eliminate its executive director from the budget.

The center should continue to look for more ways to keep costs down and raise money to support itself.

In deciding whether to give money to the senior center, city officials should consider whether it's fair to provide for one organization but deny funding for others. There are other nonprofit groups in the city that could use more money, too.

City officials need to proceed carefully.



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