Olk Klaverack Santaa

Germantown holds line on youth programs


GERMANTOWN–Towns in Columbia County may feel squeezed by state aid reductions in 2010 to youth programs, but town Supervisor Roy Brown (R) is confident that residents here will not notice any changes under this year’s budget.

“It’s a shame that the funding that gets cut the most is youth and senior citizen programs,” said Mr. Brown, who is also the new chairman of the county Board of Supervisors. “It’s the ones that need it the most that seem to get cut first.”

The summer youth programs in Germantown, which include a day-camp and swimming lessons, will operate as usual this summer despite the cuts in state aid, said Mr. Brown. “We moved money from here or there in the budget to allot the same amount as last year for the summer programs,” he said.

Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R-123rd), who has been working in youth programs since 1983 with the Schoharie Recreation Commission, said youth funding from the state has, at best, remained flat in recent years. “More groups and services are out there competing for the dollars,” said Mr. Lopez. “The pot is not growing as quickly as the demand created by new groups.”

Though the $500 from state aid for youth programs in Germantown for 2010 is less than half the amount received in 2008, Mr. Brown sees that and other cuts simply as a reminder to not spend frivolously.

“We’re going to keep in place our spending freeze,” said Mr. Brown, who added that he is confident the town budget will be balanced. “Last year we didn’t spend on any unnecessary things from the general fund. We’ll continue doing that.”

At $1.87 million, spending in Germantown is down slightly townwide over last year’s budget, and there is no change in the tax rate or the amount to be raised by taxes.

Mr. Lopez said that public schools like Germantown receive direct state aid and will have tough times ahead. “Germantown Central will be struggling, this is my prediction,” said the assemblyman. Smaller rural schools, Mr. Lopez said, will be hit harder by the state aid reductions than large, suburban districts.

There is a parallel, he added, between inner-city schools and rural schools in how they tend to rely on state aid. “They will be struggling as the state tries to make sense of their situation,” Mr. Lopez said.

Agreeing to stay within their means is the best way for towns to make it through the next few years responsibly, said Mr. Lopez, who faulted state government for doing the opposite, which, he said, is how New York got itself into these difficult economic times. The big issue, he said, is being economically sustainable.

“It’s going to take some time for the state to rebuild and recoup its resources,” said Mr. Lopez. “It’s kind of like a delayed reaction. Reserves are spent until they run out.”

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