Two organizations getting funds from the town of Saugerties government will get reduced funding in the 2017 town budget. The Saugerties Historical Society, which operates the Kiersted House and puts on a number of history-related programs, and the Saugerties Unit of the Ulster County Boys and Girls Club are not happy about the change. They saw their budgets from the town reduced by $1000 and $2800 respectively.
According to town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, the two organizations can expect to see continued reductions until the town no longer contributes to those programs.
The town board is taking these measures in order to lower the tax rate for town and village property owners.
“A number of years ago, both groups came to us asking to be part of our budget,” Helsmoortel explained. The Historical Society wanted to help pay for a new furnace to heat the Kiersted House, and the Boys and Girls Club needed to make up for lagging donations to its programs.
“But we took a close look at their financials,” Helsmoortel said, “as we do each year, and we saw that they were doing okay.”
Members of the town board say many worthy service organizations in the town and village could use some extra money, “but we can’t help them all.”
Marge Block, who heads the historical society, said the cut would affect her organization “a great deal.” The historical society had received $8000 annually from the town, but that amount will now be reduced to $7000. It costs $25,000 annually to operate the society, Block said.
“We don’t have a paid staff and have to rely on volunteers, and put on programs that cost money,” Block said. “I understand the cuts, and I don’t want to criticize the town council, but it hurts financially. We raise money through begging, grants and donations, so any cuts are difficult.”
The historical society does raise some money by renting out the historic barn on the Kiersted House’s property for weddings and private events. That hasn’t become a big revenue-producer yet, Block said.
Joe Fay, executive director of the Ulster County Boys and Girls Club, says the budget cut will have a “tremendous affect” on his organization. “We thank the board for their many years of support,” Fay said, but the club needs to raise money through donations, government funding and grants to support its programs.
To ensure that every child that wants to participate in the Boys and Girls club can, the membership fee for children is $10 per year, Fay said.
The Saugerties town government donates $21,000 a year to the Saugerties unit. The $2800 cuts will bring that number down to $18,200.
“When we gave these two organizations money, we did not look for it to be long-term,” Helsmoortel explained, “so slowly, over time, we will be reducing our contribution to them.”