Citizen committee to advise Rensselaerville on use of Bogue bequest

Enterprise file photo — 

RENSSELAERVILLE — A committee will advise the town of Rensselaerville on how to use funding generated by a large, out-of-the-blue bequest to the town left by Jeffrey Bogue, who spent much of his life in Connecticut but was related to the Kuhars in Rensselaerville, and died in 2020 at the age of 68.

State law requires that the town use only the interest earned on the primary balance, which is a little more than $830,000. The money — officially named the Kuhar Endowment Fund, by Bogue — is in a bank account that earns 3.5 percent annually, Supervisor John Dolce explained at a Nov. 9 town board meeting. That would be roughly $29,000 per year that the town can choose to spend. 

At the meeting, Bogue’s cousin, Rosemarie Kuhar, presented information about the five-person committee she helped form, and which she chairs, that intends to take applications from local community organizations and decide how the money should be spent each year with the town board having the final say. The committee is made up of members from all the hamlets in the town. 

“What we did was come up with a policy for the grant … and also guidelines and an application,” she told the board of the private committee’s work so far. The policy includes things like avoiding conflicts of interest, should an organization that a member of the committee is affiliated with apply for funds.

The committee also would not accept applications from political or religious organizations, unless it was for a project that was not affiliated with political or religious ideologies, such as a food bank that is run by a church and benefits the entire community. 

Bogue’s gift to the town was a complete surprise, to both the board and his family members. Nearly two years later, Kuhar still says she has “no idea” why Bogue, who had summered here as a youth but was never a permanent resident, left the town with so much money. 

“It will be a mystery forever,” she told The Enterprise this week, in part because the lawyer Bogue had worked with to put the bequest together in Virginia has also died.

Bogue also did not leave any clear instructions on how to use the money, but Kuhar has suggested that he was a committed volunteer who wanted to better the town, leading to the idea of using the money on what she’s calling community grants.

While any Rensselaerville-based organization can apply, Kuhar said that money will automatically go to the three fire districts every year, along with the local cemetery and playground. For the first year, each will receive $1,000, she said, but that amount will be revisited once there’s some experience on which to base the decision. 

Also during the first year — or depending on how many organizations apply — applicants will only be able to request up to $1,500, Kuhar said during the board meeting.

She said the committee also thinks that 10 percent of the interest should be withheld “so we’re guaranteed to have money for the following year in case the stock market crashes or something happens with the economy.” Again, though, she said that’s a policy that can be revisited once any early hurdles are cleared. 

“I would say, as a committee, we’ve had no experience [with] grants,” Kuhar said, expressing a desire for the town to weigh in with any concerns about the plan at this stage. Board members did not object to anything, and town attorney Andrew Clark said he had “no qualms.”

Kuhar told The Enterprise that she has a list of about 20 organizations that will be “targeted,” meaning that the committee will try and get them applications proactively, but that any other organizations that don’t receive something directly from the committee can pick up an application in the town hall. 

Applications will be available by Dec. 1, she said, and the deadline to return them will be Feb. 29 next year. The applications will be opened and reviewed in March, then presented to the town board, which will take its vote, and — if all goes smoothly — the money will be available to pick up in May, Kuhar said.

Anyone with questions can email the town clerk, Victoria Kraker, at, she said.

Kuhar had suggested to the town board that it make an event out of the presentations, so that there’s “publicity for the town.” 

Organizations will then have until Dec. 31, 2024 to spend the money, Kuhar said, and then they’re asked to submit proof in January that they spent the money as promised. 

Her overall philosophy on the fund is that it should “make all these little hamlets feel more like a community. If it doesn’t work the first year, as I said, we’ll revamp it and come to the board and say, ‘These are our suggestions moving forward.’”

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