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Wilton Teen Center Adds to Funding Stream

WILTON, Conn. – Only half of the budget for Wilton’s Trackside Teen Center comes from the town, but it finds ways to pay the rest of its bills.  

Nearly $144,000 from Wilton pays the center’s payroll taxes, salary, benefits and cleaning. Much of the rest of the funding comes from grants, gifts, an annual appeal and program fees.

Trackside has not changed the amount it requests from the town in the last three years. “As far as the town funding goes, we’re just a one line item in the town budget and for the third year we’re remaining flat,” Executive Director Mark Ketley said.

The town's budget doesn't specify how the money is spent. And getting the money from the town isn’t guaranteed. Trackside requests the funding every year, but that doesn’t mean Wilton has to award it.

Trackside leases the land from the town for $1 a year and provides a space for teens for after-school programs and for weekend dances, concerts and other events.

“Our expenses have gone up, so we’re actually doing more with less, which is a good thing in these trying times,” Ketley said last week during a meeting of the Commission on Social Services.

An increasing amount of its budget, about $23,000, comes from renting space to groups for meetings or events. But Ketley said much of the open time is donated to groups that are dedicated to helping the community.

Although renting to groups is important for the bottom line, he stressed that the teens always come first. “Friday nights is like the high school night. That’s when the kids like to come here. We don’t rent it out; we don’t give it away; we don’t have groups using it. That’s the kids' time,” Ketley told The Daily Wilton.

Money is now coming in through the café, Ketley said. Revenue totaled about $6,000 last year, up from $1,000 before Ketley took the position of executive director two years ago.

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