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Thursday, 07 March 2013 12:04

Six Percent Budget Cut Looms Over Saratoga Bridges: Staff Prepare for Possible Loss of $1.3 Million

By Chelsea DiSchiano | News

SARATOGA COUNTY – Nonprofit organizations that provide services to those with developmental disabilities, such as local agency Saratoga Bridges, are facing a possible 6 percent cut to their New York State funding. If the state budget passes as is, the cut would amount to a loss of about $1.3 million for Saratoga Bridges. 

 

“We’ve taken cuts over the years, but this is significantly more than we’ve had to take in the past,” said Valerie Muratori, executive director of Saratoga Bridges. 

If the cut is implemented, Saratoga Bridges would have to reorganize 40-50 positions within the organization, create a larger day program while reducing the social and community programs that enable its individuals to be a part of the community, and possibly disable the organization to continue providing services to all of its 200 in-home respite families. 

“Because we provide services in the areas of housing, employment, day services and family support, the cut really cuts across all the services that we provide,” Muratori explained. “So we would have to evaluate how we would reduce or reorganize services in every single part of our organization.”

Saratoga Bridges’ support services “tend to be more expensive than the more traditional services,” Muratori added. 

“We pride ourselves in being able to offer a lot of opportunities for people with disabilities to be integral members of the community and get out and volunteer and be part of the social and recreational side of the community,” Muratori said. “We would have to look at reorganizing the way we do business and do larger day programs, which isn’t what anybody wants to see happen.”

Muratori added that the current staff and individuals who receive support from Saratoga Bridges aren’t the only ones who will be affected by the cut. 

“Because it’s such a significant cut, those who might be looking for services in the future would have to be placed on a very long waitlist as far as getting into the service system,” Muratori said.  

Though the cut hasn’t yet been implemented, Muratori said the organization is already preparing for the impact. 

“We are very much holding onto positions that are open and not filling positions,” Muratori said. “And we’re holding onto budgeted positions we had planned on filling in 2013, so we’re already at least preparing for what happens in case this cut comes through.”

Though organizations like Saratoga Bridges are preparing for the worst, the state assembly vote on the New York State budget is still a few weeks away, giving the nonprofit’s supporters a little time to convince their legislators to vote against the cut. 

Muratori held four different staff meetings in one day to inform employees of the cut’s impact and how they can try to stop it. 

“We are knocking on doors, talking to our legislators and sending emails trying to advocate and educate our legislators about it,” Muratori said. “I would encourage anybody to reach out to their local legislators and encourage them to restore the budget.”

Anyone interested in helping to advocate for Saratoga Bridges can call Valerie Muratori at (518) 587-0723 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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