Council funds local causes

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BURRILLVILLE – They make up a tiny fraction of the town budget, but a big part of quality of life in Burrillville.

They are local organizations that operate independently with the help of a small stipend from the town each year – but that funding was eliminated from the 2019 budget earlier this month as the Town Council looked to balance numbers in a difficult fiscal year.

On Wednesday, June 27, the money was restored.

The Town Council voted on Wednesday night to fund the special appropriations budget, a $50,000 line item that helps to keep organizations including the Burrillville Historical and Preservation Society and Sojourner House operating in town.

Money handed out to local causes from the town’s general fund annually include $3,000 for the Burrillville Arts Festival. The event has been cancelled this year due to illness of the organizer.

Also included is $6,000 for the Glocester Senior Center, money that allows residents to use the facility in the neighboring town, and $7,000 to Senior Services, Inc., giving Burrillville’s older population access to that group’s services.

Well One receives $15,000 annually, and Tri Town Community Action Agency gets $7,500. The BHPS, which works to preserve and protect the town’s history, receives $2,250.

The town funding supplements some organizations that operate with little or no income.

But when the board was looking for budget cuts at their meeting June 13, to make up for what councilors said were state cuts to town schools, the groups ended up on the chopping block.

This week, Town Manager Michael Wood recommended that the Town Council fund the line item from the town’s undesignated surplus account.

“I think it’s a small amount of money for the return the town gets, and I think we’d be negligent not to approve it,” said Town Council President John Pacheco. “Next year the budget will correct itself and it won’t be as tough as it was this year.”

Councilor David Fox referenced the work of Well One, a medical care facility utilized by an estimated one third of Burrillville residents.

“What they represent in the community is huge,” Fox said.

Wood noted that the funding would have no effect on taxes, and the appropriations were approved unanimously.

The council also ratified a finalized budget that is expected to come with a roughly $157 increase for the owner of the average residential home valued at $231,000, as originally put forth by Wood.

Once uploaded to the town website, the document can be viewed in its entirety here.

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Sandy Seoane is the founder, publisher, and editor of Northern Rhode Island News On the Web. A SUNY Albany graduate with more than eight years experience covering news in the Blackstone Valley, Seoane previously worked for The Valley Breeze and Woonsocket Patch.