A longtime fund used to help low-income families in Groton is running low and will be empty within two and a half years, the town manager said in a report Aug. 2.
The Elihu Spicer Trust Fund, created in 1979 to help residents struggling with rent, utilities, and other basic needs, has been tapped for years but is now being depleted.
Town Manger Mark Oefinger said in a weekly report to the town council that demand for the fund has risen while interest rates have fallen. The town has had to dip into the principal.
The starting fund balance in July 1979 was $197,000.
As of June 30, it was down to $64,848.20. During the last fiscal year, the fund gave out about $25,200 in grants.
“At this rate of disbursement, the Spicer Fund will be completely depleted in approximately 2 ½ years,” Oefinger wrote.
The Spicer Fund serves residents whose incomes fall within 175 percent of the federal poverty level; for a family of four, that's an annual income of $40,338, for example. The Groton Human Services Department reviews applications for Spicer grants once a year, and gives amounts of up to $300.
Town Mayor Heather Bond Somers said councilors have known for some time that the fund was not self-sustaining.
“It is really quite sad because it does show how many people in the town are in need,” she said.
Somers said the council could approach the issue two ways: try to add a budget line item for the fund, or launch a fundraising effort.
She said fundraising may be the best approach.
“We are a very generous town and if we all put our minds to it, I think you would see absolute support for this type of fund," she said.
To donate, checks may be made out to "The Spicer Fund” and mailed to: Groton Human Services, 2 Fort Hill Road, Groton, CT 06340.
All money goes to families in need.