By RUSSELL JONES
The Pittsford Selectboard is discussing the issue of the Burditt Trust fund, again.
This time the issue is the ownership of a school building that was purchased with Burditt money, but is being used for what the board considers non-school activities.
The Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union recently entered into a licensing agreement with the caretaker at Lothrop Elementary School. He will live in the “Blue House,” which is on the grounds of the school and once housed the mental health support staff and afterschool programs.
Due to declining enrollment, those programs are now housed in other areas of the school and the Blue House has sat empty for years. The license for the caretaker and his family to live there is dependent upon his working for the school.
The topic was discussed at the last Pittsford Selectboard meeting in August. Town Manager John Haverstock said the board had some questions and asked him to look into the situation.
“I was in touch with Jeanne Collins at the (RNESU) headquarters,” Haverstock said. “She wrote us an email explaining that, yes, as part of the custodian’s compensation package, they have entered into a license agreement allowing him to take up residence in the Blue House.”
Board members had several questions about zoning, taxes and if the agreement was allowable considering that the building was purchased with Burditt Trust funds.
The selectboard and the school board have had several issues with the Burditt Trust since unification. The Burditt Trust was set up to help fund school projects and a unanimous vote was needed by the town and school to use the money from the fund.
Earlier this year the two sides agreed to a new set of guidelines through arbitration. Now, a unanimous vote by the selectboard is needed along with a majority vote from the school board, with the Pittsford reps voting in agreement for the funds to be approved.
“I think this bears referral to the zoning officer to determine whether there needs to be some sort of action from the zoning office regarding a change of use of that building,” Haverstock said, “and secondly to the lister’s office because they might want to take action to put the Blue House as a revenue generating source onto the town tax rolls.”
The board suggested he speak with the town’s attorney before taking any action on this issue.
“I would like to remind everybody that this property was paid for by the Burditt Fund, it was the Select Board that signed off on it, for school purposes,” Selectman Thomas Pelkey said. “Now it’s being changed to something else.”