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Sun., Dec. 21
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Parishville Hilltoppers want $3,100 funding restored to town budget

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By RYNE R. MARTIN

PARISHVILLE - Representatives of the Parishville Hilltoppers Senior Citizens Club called on town board members to restore funding to the organization in its 2013 spending plan.

But Town Supervisor Jerry G. Moore wasn’t ready to make any promises. He said funding for the club will be on the table when the town board holds a budget meeting next week. He said the budget is being crafted at a time when the town is fighting a lawsuit filed by Erie Boulevard Power seeking a major reduction in its property assessment, a move that could potentially significantly impact the town’s revenues.

“The amount they want reduced is significant. It would be very serious for this town,” he said, inferring town officials needed to be very conservative in their 2013 spending plan.

The town board cut funding to the Hilltoppers in the 2012 spending plan, citing a state law for the funding freeze, saying they would be in violation of the law if they had continued to donate the $3,100 they had in years past.

They pointed to a section of the state constitution, passed in 2002, which prohibits local municipalities from giving tax dollars to a private organization unless a contract is drafted and that organization offers some type of service to the town in return.

Without an exchange of services, the donation is considered a gift, which the town cannot give, they said last year when the decision was made to cut the allocation to the senior’s club from the budget.

J. Neil Devine, a member of the Hilltoppers Club, suggested the town board could sign a contract to provide services to seniors in the community similar to the pact the Quad Town senior citizens group has with the towns of Stockholm, Hopkinton, Lawrence and Brasher.

Quad Town leaders have said various trips sponsored by the club are open to residents of the four towns and are the service needed to legitimize the funding.

“We were very disappointed when funds for the dances were cut off last year. As a result of the cutback, we had to cut back of the number of dances. We had to bear the expense of the rental of the fire hall and the bands,” Mr. Devine said.

Hilltoppers President Evelyn R. Burkett said last year the $4 admission fee for the dances was used to cover the cost of renting the fire hall, and had suggested raising an additional $300 for music and disc jockeys at each dance might not be possible.

Mr. Devine, armed with a copy of the town of Brasher’s contract with the Quad Town club, said a similar agreement could allow the town board to provide funding to the Hilltoppers.

“I know how to do that contract,” Mr. Moore said. “That’s not the point. It’s the money. I don’t care what Brasher and Potsdam do.”

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