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Most New Yorkers Skip Donation on Tax Return For WTC Memorial

Fewer than 15,000 of the millions of New Yorkers who filed tax returns this year checked off a box to make a donation to the World Trade Center Memorial fund, state officials said.

The program raised $150,085, according to the Department of Taxation and Finance.

The state allows taxpayers to make contributions to as many as seven charitable organizations on their tax forms. More than $420,000 was raised for breast cancer research and treatment while a wildlife fund raised nearly $353,000.

"We are slightly disappointed by the results," WTC Memorial Foundation President Gretchen Dykstra told a newspaper for a story in Saturday editions.

Voluntary tax donations are only one way the foundation is raising money to build the World Trade Center memorial, a Sept. 11 museum and two other cultural buildings at ground zero.

In its first year, the nonprofit foundation has raised $130 million from private donors and another $300 million was committed by government agencies. But it is unclear whether that is enough.

The estimated price tag of the memorial soared past $972 million in recent weeks, prompting officials in New York and New Jersey to urge changes that would keep the cost under $500 million.

The Memorial Foundation board suspended fundraising several weeks ago while it reevaluates the costs and current designs.

The memorial, called "Reflecting Absence," would create two deep pools and a subterranean chamber in a plaza surrounded by oak trees. Construction is hoped to be complete by 2009.