The Haines Animal Rescue Kennel formally declined to accept $14,500 from the borough, which means it will get redistributed to other agencies. The assembly on Tuesday voted to have the Nonprofit Funding Committee decide who gets what. Also at the meeting, an update on the Sheldon Museum name change and a local business tax incentive program.
HARK never actually took the more than $14,000 offered by the borough, but the administration needed a formal letter declining the funds for anything more to happen. The money came from the Community Chest and it was decided Tuesday that re-allocating it will be left up to the committee. In a letter to the borough, HARK director Tracy Mikowski said while she appreciates the effort, the money would be best used elsewhere.
Assembly member Ron Jackson moved that the money be distributed among the remaining nonprofits instead of sending it back to committee. Diana Lapham responded:
“It looks like it might be a real done deal, but I would like to have that money come back to us and then have the committee reconvene and we decide on how we’re going to do this money at that time. And that’s strictly just to follow procedures.”
With that $14,500, the remaining organizations would get close to being funded at 90 percent of what they requested.
George Campbell, who participated in the meeting by phone, took the opportunity to remind the assembly that there are many large, unfunded projects in the borough.
“We still have a sewer treatment plant, we still have dock, we still have a high school roof and everything else that we need to spend money on,” Campbell said. “I’d like to see us pull in our horns and spend money on infrastructure that the entire public needs. I think that’s more important than spending money on more nonprofits.”
But the money earmarked for HARK never actually left the community chest, said borough finance officer Jila Stewart.
Jackson’s motion tied, 3-3, with Campbell, Margaret Friedenauer and Lapham opposed. Mayor Jan Hill voted it down, breaking the tie. Lapham then moved to have the nonprofit committee appropriate the funds. That motion carried 4-2 with Campbell and Tresham Gregg opposed.
The Assembly also got some clarification on the Sheldon Museum’s name change from director Helen Alten. The name was changed by the museum board in October – they do not need final approval from the assembly – but the process is on hold until the new year.
“But what the board has recognized is that although they have been talking about the name and the problems of the name for many, many years, apparently for decades actually, almost since the founding of the museum,” Alten said. “Now they’re realizing it should have been more of a process with the community.”
So, the name was officially changed to the Haines Museum, but it could change it again.
Alten said she hasn’t heard much resistance from residents who live in Haines. But assembly member Mike Case encouraged more public feedback before a new sign and letterhead are ordered.
“I think there were misunderstandings and I would hate to see you go through and change that name which many people in this community like, without looking into it more,” Case said. “If it’s just that relatively small board, and they’re very dedicated, hard-working people, I think they ought to go and get more information from the community.”
Alten responded that some sort of public forum will happen in the new year to get a better handle on what residents want.
After that, the assembly voted to have the Commerce Committee revisit a tax incentive program for local businesses. The idea was broached last year but fizzled out when assembly and committee members were shuffled around, and a new mayor elected, after the 2014 election.
The motion was brought forward by Margaret Friedenauer and passed unanimously.
The next borough assembly meeting is Dec. 15.