Wilmington's Memorial Hall board requests $15,000


WILMINGTON -- Before it agrees to hand the Memorial Hall board $15,000 from the 1 percent local option tax fund, the Selectboard would like to learn more about its operations and plans.

On Feb. 5, Memorial Hall board member Alan Greenspan spoke of the need to have additional funds in order to hire entertainers and purchase advertising.

"In the past, we've sold tickets and put out a donation box. We're no longer able to charge. We have to depend on the donation box," he said. "And this year, we had to put the donations into the town's general fund."

Historically, the town has given the board funds with which to operate. A line item in the last budget allotted $1,500 for the board.

When asked why this request would not just be included in the line item, Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy said he was not in favor of having that large of a sum in there.

"I can't put that on the taxpayer's back," he said. "This request would not burden the taxpayers and it would open Memorial Hall up for all these wonderful events."

The Selectboard was skeptical to approve the funding without further data, which Murphy agreed to try and obtain for the next meeting.

"(We) would like more information and more figures," said Selectboard member Diane Chapman. "What you spent and what you brought in. I'm talking totals."

In his proposal, Greenspan asked that the $15,000 be made available, then any money made from donations could be put into the general fund and any funds not used would be carried over for the following year.

He does not believe all the requested funds would be used in one year. He wanted "a back-up amount to start with."

"I'd like to know there's $10,000 I can count on while writing a check. I can't tell you how many times I've done it out of my pocket to make up the difference," said Greenspan.

In most cases, entertainment in the hall costs $800 and donations usually reach $400. So, organizers regularly need to come up with $400 for a given event.

"We have so many opportunities in this general area around Brattleboro," added Greenspan. "There are a lot of talented people."

He mentioned several successful events that were put on by the hall board last year, which included Irish step dancing, a puppet show, acrobatic dancing and square dancing.

The biggest cost for the Memorial Hall board is advertising, Greenspan explained. Each program could cost up to $3,000 for advertising through posters and newspapers.

When Friends of Memorial Hall, which applied for non-profit status several months ago, was mentioned, Greenspan said he did not know when its assistance would begin. He urged for municipal support in the meantime.

"The town supports Memorial Hall because the town owns Memorial Hall. It's not in the real estate business. It's in the business of making this town more attractive to live in and encouraging more people to come," he concluded.

During the meeting, the Selectboard approved funding the Deerfield Valley Fair Association's request for $3,000 for fireworks and the Community Emergency Response Team's purchase of an equipment trailer not to exceed $8,050. That funding will be made available from the local option tax fund, which is not to be confused with the events program fueled by the same revenue source.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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