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Parishville Hilltoppers want $3,100 funding restored to town budget

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PARISHVILLE — Representatives of the Parishville Hilltoppers Senior Citizens Club called on Town Council members to restore funding to the organization in the 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 as the town fights a lawsuit filed by Erie Boulevard Hydropower seeking a major reduction in its property assessment, a move that significantly could affect the town’s revenues.

“The amount they want reduced is significant. It would be very serious for this town,” he said.

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

Town officials pointed to a section of the state Constitution, passed in 2002, that 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 they decided to cut the seniors club allocation 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 on 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 said raising an additional $300 for music and disc jockeys for each dance might not be possible.

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