BY ANDREAS YILMA
BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectmen on Jan. 8 moved to have the town attorney draft and review an ordinance to allow people to donate to the Melbourne Trust, which helps local students.
The proposed ordinance is expected to be moved forward for a hearing and town meeting.
“I’ve been trying to get this done for about 10 years so it’s about time,” Selectman Michael A. Krenesky said at the meeting.
Irving J. Melbourne, a former town resident, in 1982 left $10,000 in his will in a trust called the Samuel E. Melbourne Family Memorial Fund. The money was to be used for the benefit of a needy or underprivileged students from town. The then Board of Selectmen approved of the trust in December 1990.
Town officials have typically in the past given two $250 scholarships for Woodland Regional High School. The fund currently has about $480 remaining. The trust doesn’t have to be exclusively used for scholarships.
“If a family has extensive medical finances, the trust can also be used to help the family pay the bills,” Krenesky subsequently said. “It’s been set up for a child that needs financial assistance for medical.”
The fund grew over a number of years from $10,000 to $25,000 before town officials began using the funds. There haven’t been any additional funds added to the trust since it was established, Krenesky said.
The trust itself doesn’t have anything in it that states where residents can’t donate however the municipality can’t collect funds for events such as when the Friends of the Public Library raised funds through events for the library or when the Beacon Falls Historical Society raised funds for the town’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2021. The municipality itself can’t accept donations, Krenesky added.
“The town doesn’t have a vehicle to accept money and it’s under state statues that we cannot,” Krenesky said.
Krenesky said he first realized that town officials had an opportunity to raise funds through the residents’ motor vehicle taxes as an add on when former First Selectman Susan A. Cable was in office as she supported it. However officials couldn’t come to an agreement with the then tax collector.
“The tax collector at the time felt it was too much of an extra burden to put on the tax collections,” Krenesky said.
Officials are hopeful to have the hearing soon to have this resolved hopefully by the beginning of May.