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Weston Warm-Up Fund gets $6,000 from town

The Weston Warm-Up Fund asked the Board of Selectmen for $4,000; it came away with $6,000.

Dawn Egan and Andy Langlois of the Warm-Up Fund told the board at its meeting Thursday, May 17, that the number of households it serves by offering heating assistance decreased this year by 13 households to a total of 40.

Ms. Egan said nine of those are doing better financially and no longer need or qualify for services. Others either died or moved out of town.

The criteria for qualifying for assistance from the Warm-Up Fund remained the same this year as last year, Ms. Egan said. To qualify, an individual must make $45,000 a year or less, plus $5,000 for each additional dependent in the house.

The Warm-Up Fund tries to reimburse up to 95% of its clients’ heating bills. Other than for some seniors, Ms. Egan said, the fund does not cover 100% of its clients heating costs because “everyone should have some ownership of their heating bill.”

Mr. Langlois said the majority of the Warm-Up Fund’s money comes from individual donations, but there are also grants from organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, religious institutions, the Scouts, and women’s clubs.

“A lot of people pitch in to make this possible,” Mr. Langlois said.

Last year, the town donated $8,000 from its community grants budget. “We are very grateful for it and in need of it,” Ms. Egan said.

She said the fund is asking for less this year because of the drop in the number of clients being served. She pointed out, however, that if the qualifying criteria remain the same, there will be many people who “just miss” the cutoff and whom the fund will not be able to help.

Of the $25,000 originally allocated for community grants in the 2011-12 budget year, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said, there is approximately $9,000 remaining.

Selectman David Muller asked if there were any other “incoming requests” on the horizon before the end of the fiscal year (June 30). “Not as far as I know,” Ms. Weinstein said.

Mr. Muller said it was admirable that the Warm-Up Fund was not simply requesting the same amount as last year, given the drop in the number of clients being served. “But this benefits exclusively Weston residents. … I’d be supportive of taking a little more” from the grants budget, he said.

Ms. Weinstein agreed, saying she is concerned about the number of people who “just miss” the qualification threshold. Mr. Langlois said more money would be helpful as the fund looks at whether to change the threshold.

Selectman Dennis Tracey said he, too, was comfortable allocating more money.

The selectmen voted unanimously to give the Warm-Up Fund $6,000 from the 2011-12 community grants budget.

For 2012-13, $25,000 was again budgeted for community grants.

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