Tax is Considered the Last Chance for some Colorado Historical Societies

An article by Ryan Summerlin in the Post Independent Citizen Telegram points out the financial difficulties that historical societies in Garfield County, Colorado, are facing. The historical societies say a proposed tax increase is their last shot at sustainable funding that will safeguard their futures.

On the Nov. 7 ballot, seven of the county’s historical societies and museums are asking voters to approve a property tax increase that would generate an estimated $1 million a year — without which, some organizations wonder if they’ll stay open. Advocates estimate that the increase would cost residential property owners about $3.24 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Details may be found at: http://bit.ly/2gkYwyU.

My thanks to newsletter reader Joey B. for telling me about this story.

5 Comments

This is my home county. It’s silly to say it’s their last chance, although that might be true of the Railroad Museum, but the last time I visited that museum, they charged $1.00 to enter the world’s tiniest museum (and they didn’t even charge me). It could easily be combined with the other Glenwood Springs Museum. It doesn’t sound as though they expect the measure to pass since they don’t even have an organizational system in place. For years, museums have needed a stable funding source in our county, but to compare our silly little museums with nearby Pitkin County museums is also a bit ridiculous–Pitkin County is the home of Aspen. Our other neighboring counties are Eagle, which includes Vail, and Mesa, which has a municipal area of over 100,000 people. In other words, the surrounding counties are either obscenely rich or have a much larger tax base. I may vote for the tax, but this article makes me feel nervous about it. When the county libraries voted in a tax in the 1980s, which the county commissioners oversaw, the commissioners take a huge chunk of it to build bridges–that was true until the libraries formed a library district and resubmitted the idea to voters. Without a special taxing district, there’s no way to prevent the commissioners from robbing the museums for pet projects. That must be why one county commissioner supports it. Ridiculous.

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I would urge all taxpayers involved to consider favoring this tax. I sounds like a bargain way to keep societies and museums open.

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    A tax is not the way to go. Better usage of the money received by the museums and societies is the way to go. Instead of spending so much on things they shouldn’t be spending on, how about the organizations look at ways to cut the fat. In most nonprofits, the percentage of budget dedicated to staff runs 80+%. Rely more on volunteers and less on paid staff. Adapt to the social media world to get your message out and reach potential donors. I volunteer at a gen. society that is only open a couple of days a week and closes for much of December. Attempts to get it to stay open on other days have failed because they don’t see the benefit. However, they routinely have a net loss of $5 -10K/year. They have a large reserve fund, but in about 5 – 10 years, it will be gone. This is one of the handful of societies that has no paid staff.

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David Paul Davenport October 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm

I am not a supporter of taxes on real estate. If stable funding is needed funding should come from the County “general fund” which is usually based on sales tax revenue. Everyone in a community may choose to benefit from the historical societies so everyone should pay their fair share, not just property owners.

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