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Salem selectmen deny grant request to Boys and Girls Club for computers

SALEM — Selectmen are looking to better educate local nonprofits about what kind of expenses are eligible to be covered by grants from the town’s Lancaster Fund.

The town’s Lancaster Fund is disbursed by selectmen to nonprofits that benefit Salem. The funds are typically for one-time events or special programs, and not for the general operational expenses of nonprofits.

On Monday night, the board denied a $2,500 request from the Salem Boys and Girls Club to purchase new computers for the club’s technology center.

As with a previous request that was denied by the board for the Salem Family Resources’ preschool program, board members praised the nonprofit, but said the request did not square with the Lancaster Fund guidelines.

“The technology center is an existing facility that members use on a regular basis,” said Selectman James Keller. “I struggle with this leaning more toward the operational expense of the site.”

Selectman Stephen Campbell agreed with Keller, noting that the plan to upgrade 20 computer workstations at the club would entail an ongoing expense for the next four years.

Selectman Michael Lyons voted to deny the grant request, but said there might be other programs that could be eligible for the Lancaster Fund in the future.

“I am familiar with the club, and I think there must be something at the club that would fit, but this doesn’t,” Lyons said.

With two out of the three Lancaster Fund requests from nonprofits denied this year, Lyons said there might be an opportunity for the town to better educate local nonprofits about its guidelines. Those guidelines were updated by selectmen in 2012.

Lyons also suggested that beginning next year, all Lancaster Fund requests should be considered by the board during a single meeting.

“It will also be a check on us to have the opportunity to make sure the standards are applied fairly,” said Lyons.

The one Lancaster Fund request that was approved by the board this year was to help cover some of the costs of bringing the 80 percent scale-sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall to town.

Selectmen stated that the request was for a one-time event.

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