Bethel Council hears from Burke Trust board

February 17th, 2008    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

Board member of the Burke Trust Frank Manning recently spoke with the Bethel Village Council, presenting them with an update on the trust that was formed more than four decades ago to support philanthropic efforts in the village.

Created through the generosity of Edmund Burke, the fund has been managed over the years to create a lasting source of funding for programs such as scholarships for local students. Manning said that, despite some problems with the stock market, the fund has shown growth lately.

“As you will see, we did lose a little in the last quarter, but we have come back,” said Manning. “At our best, we were at $1,386,910.41 at our highest, and at the end of this month, we are at $1,492,178.80, which gives us a net gain of over $100,000, including that loss. Even though we took a beating when the market sort of crashed, being conservative didn’t turn out to be such a bad idea. This trust started with a half million dollars, and I’ve been told that we’ve given over a million dollars that’s now valued at a million and a half. We’ve been criticized by investors that say we’re too conservative. That’s our job, we’re conservators, not investors.”

Two members of the Burke Trust board were recently reinstated for another term. Manning requested during the meeting that some changes be made to the language of the rules governing the way the trust is used to further safeguard it. Typically, money is only spent from interest earned, which has helped to continue the growth of the fund.

"A year ago, we asked about some changes," said Manning. "We would like to see the set up of the board changed from five from the mayor and four from council to six from the council and three from the mayor. We've all seen some times when, if the mayor could take control, he would have. When they started picking nine people, if the mayor picked first, then it comes out five/four. We strongly suggest that be altered. Also, we want it changed that that where it says we could spend interest or $10,000, we would be very happy if it said we could spend the interest only. That eliminates any question of amounts."

Solicitor George Leicht, however, said that the request was risky, as it could prevent some of the money from being used should an emergency arise.

"I am troubled by that," said Leicht. "There could be a lack of flexibility, where we really need to invade the corpus of the trust. In fact, Mr. Burke allowed invasion of the trust. He wanted at least 10 percent of the trust (to be available). It somehow got changed to 10 percent. That was a compromise. I feel the board has very good people on it, and they will not likely invade the corpus without a good reason. I don't want to prohibit that because there may be a real need one day."

Manning, also a member of the local historical society, presented the board with a new brochure that he said was mostly created through the work of the village fiscal officer.

"Everyone is complimenting us on this (brochure) and we owe a great deal of thanks to your fiscal officer Mrs. Carissa McCoy," said Manning. "She organized this from a lot of facts that I had thrown together."

In other news, councilman Tim Cherry informed the board that the public works committee has been looking into area skate parks in preparation of creating such a park in the village.

"We were able to visit three different skate parks with different styles of materials," said Cherry. "We visited Miami Meadows, Anderson Township and New Richmond. It's interesting, with it being a cool day, we were surprised by the activity and use it had on a wintry day."
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