Frank P. Petrone (D) in this file photo.

Frank P. Petrone (D) in this file photo. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Huntington arts supporters Tuesday night asked the Town Board to sing a different tune about the proposed 2012 budget, launching into song and dance to make their point.

The musical message was in response to plans to reduce funding for nonprofits that include museums, historical societies and town favorites such as the Summer Arts Festival by about $250,000. At least 30 residents and representatives of arts and cultural organizations in Huntington asked the board to reconsider the cuts before the final budget is adopted on Nov. 9.

"I implore you, please, to consider restoring the funding to the Huntington Arts Council and for all the cultural institutions in the town," said Tom Gellert of the Huntington Community Band.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone attributed the overall cuts to issues including mandated pension and health insurance costs, employee contractual agreements and fuel costs.

The preliminary 2012 operating budget, released Sept. 20, is $174 million and includes $10.3 million in cuts from the current year's budget while increasing taxes by 1.1 percent. It calls for no salary increases for employees and requires workers to contribute 10 percent of their health-care premium costs.

"Everyone is sharing in this bleak economic situation," Petrone said. "The taxpayer is saying, 'No, we don't want the taxes raised.' They're just tired of it."

He said he has set up meetings between the arts organizations and the town's marketing firm, Creative Advertising Concepts, to help find private funding sources. He also formed a committee, led by town board member Susan Berland, to review the cuts.

When singer and songwriter Patricia Shih addressed the board, she started singing. She was soon joined by several others in the audience in a song titled, "You Gotta Have Art," with clapping and a kick-line.

"You've gotta have art, what we really need is art," Shih intoned to the delight of the crowd and the board. "Not only sewers and streets, snow plows, police and parks."

"We've found another free concert," Petrone said.

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