There is a trust fund in Barrington set up to “benefit the poor and unfortunate persons” who live in town.
It’s a fund that under the right circumstances, such as catastrophic damage and destruction caused by a hurricane like Sandy, could be used to provide food, shelter and transportation for people in Barrington who could have suffered a similar fate last fall if Sandy had plowed northeast instead of northwest into New Jersey and Manhattan.
The trust is officially known as the Amey Tucker Spencer Fund, better known as the Spencer Trust Fund. Right now, said Barrington Treasurer and Tax Collector Dean Huff, it holds about $3.2 million.
The Town Council and Huff as town treasurer serve as trustees of the fund. They met for the first time on Monday evening in an “annual meeting” called for in the by-laws approved last March.
The meeting set up the trust fund’s budget for next fiscal year, July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. And it elected officers: Town Council President June Speakman as president of the trust fund and Town Council Vice President Kate Weymouth as vice president of the fund.
Much of the meeting dealt with how the income from the fund should be spent. That income includes $80,000 for next year, although there is an additional $340,000 that has piled up, said Huff, since Barrington received $2.7 million after a lawsuit filed by heirs ended in 2005.
Wilton H. Spencer set up the fund way back in 1936, said Town Solicitor Mike Ursillo. He briefed everyone on the history and mission of the fund, which could not come to the town until at least 21 years after the last obvious heir expired.
Ursillo said the trustees may distribute the trust fund’s income to persons, charitable organizations or commissions or agencies in Barrington which meet the mission of the trust. Generally, he said, that means they must be serving anyone under the federal poverty level.
Recipient organizations must be able to deliver social services to the poor, including affordable housing, house repairs, transportation, meals and education.
But individuals or families who face “special and/or unique hardships” – such as a Hurricane Sandy-like catastrophe -- also qualify, said Ursillo.
“That’s a perfect example,” he said. “Someone who has lost everything.”
Money would still have to be funneled through an appropriate agency, such as the Red Cross, which would be assisting Barrington residents, he said.
“The parameters of the fund are broad enough to cover something like that,” Ursillo said.
Right now, said Huff, the trust fund is distributing cash as follows:
- up to $20,000 for housing repairs as a supplement to the Community Development Block Grant program,
- up to $10,000 to the East Bay Center for mental health services,
- up to $20,000 for the East Bay Community Action Program to specifically help Barrington residents,
- and approximately $30,000 for trust management fees to Bank of America.
“The money has to go to an organization that has a mechanism to distribute the funds,” said Huff. “Someone just can’t walk in and ask for cash.”