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Saratoga Bridges seeking aid

Funding cuts impact local services for the developmentally disabled

Faced with a reduction of more than $1.2 million this year in state funding, Saratoga Bridges is turning to the community for donations.

The not-for-profit, which provides care and support to individuals with disabilities and their families in Saratoga County, is concerned about how the cuts will impact the services it provides.

“It’s unrealistic for us to think we can raise that much money in one year to completely prevent cuts,” said Saratoga Bridges Executive Director Valerie Muratori.

Cuts have been made to services across the board, according to Muratori. Funds were cut for residency spaces, community habilitation, day programs, family respite services, social clubs, recreational opportunities and family reimbursement for expenses incurred in caring for an individual living at home. The organization’s 2010 operating budget was $27 million.

The organization supports nearly 200 families in the county and has about 113 individuals living as residents in their homes. Muratori said another 150 individuals are on a residential wait list. About 800 people are served through day programs and social clubs.

“Most people looking for services in the community will call us first before the state because they know us,” said Muratori. “We’re very present around Saratoga or people hear about us through word of mouth. But because of the lack of funding you slowly try to get people into the program. It’s not as quick as it use to be because you’re managing a very finite amount of dollars.”

The organization has cut back on expenses by reorganizing 42 positions within the not-for-profit. They have either not filled jobs after employees have left, or asked employees to take on more responsibilities to combine positions. The group also explained to their 500 employees that they would not receive a raise at the end of the year, which most agreed was the right thing to do.

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