October 24, 2021

Cortland County cuts $72k in 2020 operations costs

4 groups lose funding

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Melissa Bramley of Cortland hunts for a Christmas Tree on Wednesday at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville with her son, 9-year-old Jack Bartholomew. The family makes frequent use of the center, including its summer camps, and are not sure how cuts in county funding will affect them.

Melissa Bramley and Josh Bartholomew of Cortland hunted in Lime Hollow Nature Center on Wednesday for their Christmas tree with their sons, 9-year-old Jack and 5-year-old Finn.

“The educational programs are outstanding,” Bramley said. Jack has been at Lime Hollow’s summer camps for years, learning to cook in the wilderness, fishing and other theme camps.

However, with a loss of $16,000 in operational funding from the county — one of four agencies to lost a total of $72,000 — the center is trying to figure out what avenues it might have to take.

Lime Hollow Executive Director Glenn Reisweber said the first step he will take is talking to the county legislature representative for the area — Chris Newell (R- Cortlandville) — about what the center does and why the county should fund it.

The biggest reason, Reisweber said, is because the organization oversees county land.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get the money or the consideration of it,” he said. “We’re hoping it was an oversight.”

The organization oversees a 2.7-mile linear park on county land.

“There are more Cortland County residents on that trail than any other trail in the county and I would put money on that,” Reisweber said. “There’s no state park in Cortland County. Lime Hollow is essentially the state park.”

He also noted that Onondaga County provides Beaver Lake Nature Center — which oversees trails and grounds comparable to Lime Hollow — with around $1 million.

“I’m not asking for that,” he said. “I’m asking for the county to recognize that we manage county property and that we do it at a bargain price.”

Reisweber said in September when the draft budget was still being discussed that the nature center was given notice last year that it would need to pick up the additional $16,000. If that remains the case, it could mean people will see increased fees for summer camps and other activities.

“I have no choice,” Reisweber said. “If we’re going to provide the goods and services, we’re going to have to pass that on to the consumer.”

However, no decisions have been made yet.

“It would be sad if they lost funding,” Bramley said. “They’ve enhanced this area tremendously.”

Besides the summer camps, the center offers a pre-school, and naturalist programs for the general public. “Peter Harrity is amazing,” Bramley said of Lime Hollow’s associate director, who assists with those programs.

The agency cuts

The four agencies and the amount they requested:

  • Lime Hollow — $16,000.
  • 1890 House — $10,500.
  • Central New York Living History Center — $24,000.
  • Cortland County Historical Society — $21,500.

The groups received those same amounts in the 2019 budget.

The Central New York Living History Center is forging on and looking for ways
to keep fundraising and getting events hosted at the center, said center Director Cindy Stoker.

“We didn’t have it earmarked to any particular thing but it came in handy,” Stoker said. “It was money that we knew that we didn’t have to go fundraise.”

She said she doesn’t want to raise admission fees because the center is still trying to grow.

“Our rates are very reasonable for what we have,” she said.

The center is the home of the Brockway Truck and Homeville museums as well as the Tractors of Yesteryear, among other collections.

Cortland County Historical Society Director Tabitha Scoville said the loss in funding is about a fifth of the group’s budget.

“We’re going to be scrabbling to try and fill that and I don’t know how we’re going to fill it,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be hard for us.”

She had said a lack of county funding will compromise the group’s ability to visit classrooms across the county and educate students or provide free programs to county residents.

The president of the board for the 1890 House couldn’t be reached for comment.

None of the organizations can use occupancy tax money to cover operational costs because that money is restricted to tourism purposes, such as marketing an event. However, each organization did receive some occupancy funding:

  • 1890 House — $12,000.
  • The Historical Society — $12,000.
  • Lime Hollow — $12,000.
  • The Brockway Truck Preservation Society — $10,000.
  • Homeville Museum — $1,000.