Residents in the town of Troy are trying to figure out what to do with an unexpected windfall.
When former resident Betty Giorgianni died at the age of 90 earlier in April, she left the town a gift of $821,500.
For a large city, that might be a drop in the bucket, but for this community of about 2,000 people in the southwest corner of New Hampshire, it’s a big deal.
The gift amounts to roughly half of the town’s overall annual budget.
Tom Matson is chairman of the Troy Board of Selectmen. He joined NHPR’s Morning Edition to talk about the gift.
When did you first hear about this gift?
In April, after her funeral, the family stopped by the selectmen’s office to let us know that Betty had remembered the town in the will with a fairly large gift. The amount wasn’t certain at the time and we were certainly surprised when it came in to be so large.
And so for a town with an annual budget of roughly $1.5 million, I imagine this could have a pretty big impact. What’s been the reaction in the community?
Everyone’s very surprised, pleased, and grateful. The selectmen have been meeting with department heads and committee chairmen and will continue to do so to figure out the best plan for how to invest the money and how to best use it.
Will this money be taxed?
So what is the town doing when it comes to deciding what to do with this money?
Well, we’ve been very fortunate. We received another very large gift a couple years ago by a gentleman named Peter Paul, whose father was born in town. That gift enabled us to build a full community center. We kind of feel Betty’s gift will go toward the continuation of that, helping to pay for programming and activities for the children. A large part will be into savings for things like renovation of the town hall and other town buildings. There’s plenty of ways to use it.
So you’ve got two people in recent times who’ve left quite nice gifts to the town. What does that say about the residents you have there in town?
It makes everyone feel real good about the town. We’ve gone through our hard times certainly, but Troy’s a special place for many people. Betty last lived here in the ‘60s. For her to remember us after so many years, it’s quite an honor.
What has been the town’s budget situation over the past few years? Has it been steady or have you had to make any cuts?
It’s always a challenge dealing with school financing in New Hampshire and that’s the biggest pressure on the town. This will give us a little money, some breathing room to work on some projects that will really make a difference.
Are you getting a lot of requests? People sending you emails with suggestions on how to spend it?
Yes, but fortunately, they’re all pretty well thought out. It’s not being treated as a gift so much as a responsibility.
What’s the next step?
We’ll be meeting with citizens and committees and department heads before the end of the year and then in good New Hampshire tradition, a series of warrant articles will be proposed at Town Meeting about how to apply the money and the voters will vote on it.