Great Neck Arts Center loses funding

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Great Neck Arts Center loses funding

For the first time in more than a decade, the Village of Great Neck will not be renewing its contract with the Great Neck Arts Center.

The contract died quietly Tuesday night when Village of Great Neck board members declined to take up a motion to discuss the agreement.

Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said following the meeting that the decision to not renew the contract had been discussed when the village put together its budget earlier in the year.

“When we adopted our budget at that time there was absolutely no question that the Great Neck Arts Center is a fabulous institution, well deserving of the support of the entire peninsula,” Kreitzman said. “However, we as a village should not force our resident to contribute to a not-for-profit organization, and they should have the ability to choose what they spend their money on. In this harsh economic climate we’ve focused on saving taxpayer money and believe it was the right decision.”

The contract required the Village of Great Neck to contribute $2,000 in funds annually to the center.

Great Neck Arts Center founder and Executive Director Regina Gil said she was disappointed with the decision and said the center is used by many of the residents throughout Great Neck.

“It puts us in the category of very little importance to the village and I am very, very disappointed, Gill said. “It’s disturbing and this is not a lot of money. After all these years they have opted not to show support and it will hamper my efforts to raise funds going forward. Many people partake in activities and programs at the center and I venture to suggest if it didn’t exist, they would be poorer for it.”

The contract used by the Great Neck Arts Center was created years ago by the New York State Controller to assist art-centered not for profits and allow municipalities to support them, Gil said.

“Like other assets that are paid for by contracts, it’s a boost for our own real estate and creates an entity that is an attraction for new and current residents,” Gil said.

Currently, the Great Neck Arts Center is supported by the villages of Great Neck Plaza, Great Neck Estates, Lake Success and the Town of North Hempstead.

“We’ve had support in the form of a contract from every single village in the past except Kensington and Kings Point, and every other village had always participated,” Gil said. “That leads me to wonder why we’re still here if that is the attitude of the community leaders.”

Gil said the contracts are not a quid pro quo, and are negotiated on an individual basis with villages that contribute $500 to $2,500. In some cases the center offers discounted prices to village residents or students or even puts on concerts for a village’s residents.

In other developments the trustees unanimously voted for a local law Tuesday that allows the village to exceed the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap on the tax levy.

The board’s vote is in keeping with other municipalities throughout the state, which have passed similar measures to avoid potential monetary penalties that would be imposed if the 2 percent tax cap is exceeded – whether on purpose or not.

“While the village Board of Trustees continually strives to keep taxes to a minimum, because the tax levy limit imposed by the state legislation permits only a minimal increase in the village tax levy, it may be insufficient to accommodate future expenses,” Kreitzman said. “Furthermore, the consequences of exceeding, even inadvertently, the tax-levy limit are severe for the village and future village budgets.

Kreitzman said it was in the best interests of the village, its residents and taxpayers to enact the law.

Reach reporter Timothy Meyer by e-mail at [email protected].

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