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Nov 4, 2009 12:46 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Youth Bureau supporters angered by proposed budget cuts

Nov 4, 2009 12:46 PM

Several residents objected to proposed cuts to the Southampton Town Youth Bureau at a special Town Board meeting on Friday.

Under the proposed 2010 budget, spending on Human Services—which includes the Youth Bureau, criminal justice program and senior services—will be slashed by $577,000, from $4.8 million to $4.3 million.

The Youth Bureau, which offers leadership development and community service programs, is the hardest hit, with spending on contracts, programs and supplies decreasing by $98,414, from $504,125 this year to $405,711 next year. Spending on Youth Bureau staff would also drop from $475,545 this year to $303,761 next year.

Supervisor Linda Kabot noted that “the budget is not a done deal.” She said the board can amend the budget before its final adoption date, November 20.

“We know that our Youth Bureau is stellar and they’ve done a great job in our town,” Ms. Kabot said. However, she noted that the town is facing declining revenues and must cut its spending.

“Doing an excellent job also requires supporting the payroll costs,” Ms. Kabot said. “Payroll costs have grown steadily in the town. When you have declining revenue, you have to look at the expense ledger.”

Nonetheless, Steven Kaczmarek, chairman of the Southampton Youth Board, called on the Town Board to reinstate funding for the Youth Bureau, which comprises less than 1 percent of the town’s overall budget.

“Where are your priorities?” Mr. Kaczmarek said. “What percent of your home budget goes toward your children’s needs? The 2010 budget, as proposed, cuts Youth Bureau funding almost 40 percent. Does that reflect your priorities as a board?”

Under the proposed 2010 budget, two full-time workers, a youth counselor and an assistant director will be eliminated, reducing the bureau’s full-time salary line to a proposed $131,000 in 2010, down from $245,000 this year. Part-time staff salaries will also be reduced from $140,000 in 2009 to $102,000 in next year.

Deputy Town Supervisor Bill Jones, who also is the director of the Department of Human Services, has said drop-in centers in Flanders and Southampton, which provide a safe place for kids after school, may be scaled back. Also, the Youth Court program could be reduced, and the bureau may not be able to continue with Broader Horizons, a program that employs about 20 Southampton Town teens over the summer.

Also included in the proposed cuts is the elimination of a $70,000 Family Service League contract, which provides mental health counseling and psychiatric services to Southampton Town youth.

Thomas Behringer III, a parent and resident of Water Mill, warned that the budget has “misplaced priorities” by cutting Youth Bureau spending. “Your budget cuts to the Youth Bureau abuses those who have the least voice, but who deserve and need the most attention,” he said. “They, the children, are our future, and your proposed cuts are, therefore, extremely short-sighted.”

Speaking at the meeting, Ryan Tuths, 18, of North Sea, a drummer with the amateur rock band Smarter than Yourself, said he benefited from performing at Youth Bureau events. “Keep the cuts out of the Youth Bureau,” he said. “Without the Youth Bureau, there really is no Town of Southampton.”

He said the Youth Bureau helps keep teens off the street, and without a Youth Bureau, kids will get into trouble. “They’ll be wandering the neighborhood and be with people they shouldn’t be with,” he said. “The Youth Bureau keeps kids away from that.”

Councilwoman Sally Pope said she hopes to restore funding for the Youth Bureau. “I consider it a priority,” she said. “We’re going to be looking at as many alternatives as we can to bring the Youth Bureau back into the budget.”

Councilwoman Nancy Graboski also said she supported restoring funding for the Youth Bureau.

“I’m a teacher and a parent of three children,” Ms. Graboski said. “I’m certainly going to do all I can to put this back to the greatest possible extent that we can.”

Animal Shelter

The Town Board is nearing a review of terms for a contract with the Southampton Town Animal Shelter Foundation, Town Attorney Daniel Adams said.

A resolution approved unanimously by the board on Friday authorizes town attorneys to hammer out a list of 
terms with the foundation and present the terms to the board by November 13. The foundation could take over operation of the shelter as early as January 1, 2010.

Included in the terms, Mr. Adams said, will be a town contribution of $200,000 in the first year of the three-year contract. The town contribution will increase by $50,000 each following year, reaching a total contribution of $300,000 in the third year of the contract, Mr. Adams said.

The 2010 proposed budget eliminates all funding for the animal shelter, which cost about $1 million to operate this year. The Town Board must amend the proposed budget before November 20 in order to reinstate money to support shelter operations next year.

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Let's give money for animals,but cut back on children. What's wrong with that picture?
By tenn tom (255), remsenburg on Nov 12, 09 9:52 AM
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