I am writing in response to the submitted by my colleague Mark Cuthbertson on November 15, 2011.
As I have repeatedly stated from the moment the Supervisor submitted his proposed budget, I was against the proposed deep cuts to the arts and not-for-profits. Following the October 11, 2011 public hearing on the Supervisor's proposed budget, and by agreement of the Town Board and at Supervisor Petrone’s request, I met with each of the affected organizations in an effort to fairly assess their financial needs and to best approach the upcoming fiscal year. As a result of those meetings and careful scrutiny of the budget, I did in fact offer an amendment at the to affect a partial restitution to the arts and not-for-profits. (Mr. Cuthbertson’s contrary assertion is simply incorrect.)
Under the amendment I proposed, a "social program contingency account" would have been created with an initial balance of $52,500, to be followed by an infusion of an additional $50,000 in January, all of those funds to come from items already in the proposed budget so that there would be no adverse impact on the budget overall. The additional amounts needed to fund our arts and not-for-profit programs at fully projected levels would then be made up over the course of the year from a combination of public and, with the Town’s fundraising assistance, private sources.
Unfortunately, neither Mr. Cuthbertson nor any of my other colleagues seconded my proposed amendment to Supervisor Petrone’s budget. Had that amendment been approved, the Supervisor’s budget would have been adopted affirmatively by the Town Board. And it would have been, in my view, a more equitable, and in any event no more costly, budget than the one that Mr. Cuthbertson laments, will go into effect by default.
In these tough economic times, it is imperative that we be fiscally prudent. But especially in such times, we must be mindful of the increased importance of our cultural programs and of our not-for-profits. These are among the things that make Huntington the special Town that it is.
Susan A. Berland