By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA Three organizations requested from the Town Council additional funding over what is outlined in the preliminary 2014 budget and a fourth said they are happy with the tentative amount.
The Senior Citizens Center is requesting an additional $500, the Massena Museum sought an additional $2,200 and a Meals on Wheels representative said they are happy with the preliminary pledge of $9,500.
In addition to $6,357 to cover half of the director’s salary, the town has tentatively written in $4,200 to cover operating expenses at the Senior Citizens Center on Beach Street, the group is seeking $4,700. They received $3,600 under the 2013 budget.
“We’d appreciate our funding increased, as we use the Senior Citizens Center more,” said Sylvia Despaw, president of the Senior Citizens Center. She cited activities such as meals, dances, and Zumba.
Councilman John Macaulay asked the seniors to give the board their overall yearly budget so they can determine what percentage the town is funding.
Town Supervisor Joseph Gray had words of foreboding for non-government groups who get town money.
“I don’t know to what extent we have a responsibility to fund [non-government organizations] … as we look out in years, I believe this funding will dry up completely,” he said. “Organizations like the senior citizens and others need to be prepared for that.”
At the prompting of an audience member who felt the town needs to bring back lost industries, Gray noted the town lost $13 million of its tax base when the General Motors plant folded.
Massena Museum officials were on-hand to ask for an additional $1,200 to go towards contractual expenses. They requested $19,700 overall; the preliminary spending plan allots them a total of $15,000. That includes a 2 percent raise for the historian and archivist.
Museum board member Sandra Zappia noted the $3,000 cost of hiring a cleaner.
“That doesn’t leave us a lot of wiggle room to do much else,” she said.
Gray suggested the town do the job, but Zappia said it’s “a different kind of cleaning” when dealing with historical displays.
Zappia said the is also looking to make upgrades so the overall museum experience is more user-friendly and the archivist wants metal shelves to go in the basement archive.
Meals On Wheels director Jessica Fregoe told the board that her group is grateful for the $9,500 they are tentatively allotted.
“After the cut last year we will graciously take $9,500 and say thank you,” she said. They were given $8,100 last year.
Gray had the same words of warning as to the senior citizens.
“At some point, town support for Meals on Wheels is going to evaporate,” he said.
Fregoe noted that Meals On Wheels serves 96 people currently, down from an all-time record of 106 over the winter.
She noted that the town of Louisville chips in $2,500 each year, where seven are served. The rest of their budget, which includes salaries, bills, and food cost, come from the state and county Office of the Aging. They will not receive more money from that office until the spring.
Massena Rescue Squad president Roger Bennett requested increased funding for two purposes – parking lot repairs at their station and a new piece of equipment. The town will decide on a lot fix that could go as low as the $24,000 range or as high as the $36,000 range, depending on the type of material used.
He also asked for $1,400 for a new Stokes basket, which is used to move a patient where a stretcher won’t work. He cited a car accident victim that ended up in a ditch.
“I’d like to see that come out of the casino fund, if possible,” Bennett said.
The board will vote to adopt the budget on November 20.