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Marcellus village passes budget, donation rules

Savings to village taxpayers means dropped funding for library, town and private groups

One of the most controversial moves by the Marcellus Village Board in passing the 2009-10 general fund budget Monday April 27 was, at least on the surface, one of the most appropriate.

The village will this year eliminate donations to the Town of Marcellus Parks and Recreation Department, Marcellus Free Library and Health Loan Closet at an annual savings of $16,500 to the village and taxpayers.

Mayor Mike Plochocki said that the village, like many other municipalities, had for years budgeted money to be donated to private entities like the library, but that in reviewing the budget and the state law, the board found that although it may be a common practice, it's also illegal.

For the board to use taxpayer's money to donate to private organizations is essentially forcing residents to donate their own money to these groups, the board pointed out.

That's not fair, or legal, and violates 'improper gift' laws.

Plochocki explained that if the village were to contract with an organization, they would be able to donate money. But the village isn't willing to contract with a group unless they provide a service to village residents that would not be available to those outside the village.

The village previously donated $9,000 annually to the library and $500 to the Health Loan Closet.

Director of Marcellus Free Library Carol Johnson said the library board and staff was disappointed, but understood the position of the village.

"We're just surprised, our facility has been so well received, and this is at a time when circulation is way up," Johnson said. Circulation has increased 90 percent in the last year, with 1,000 new registered borrowers.

Johnson said the library is in the process of planning new fundraisers to fill the gap.

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