Madison County cuts funding to Historical Museum
Madison County Historical Museum officials are looking for more ways to fund operations after Madison county officials made good on a promise to keep the local property tax levy flat.
The county cut $80,000 of the museum’s budget in 2019, from $273,293 to $194,899.
According to Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), Madison County is one of five across the state that use tax dollars to support their history museums. The taxpayer burden to fund the museum has increased by 82 percent over the last decade. Madison County has provided almost $2 million in support for the museum from 2009 to 2018.
Steve Hansen, a board member of the Madison County Historical Society, which operates the museum, warned the loss of funding will have consequences.
“This cut is a 30 percent reduction of the museum budget,” he told IPI. “Now let me remind you of some of the consequences. First is a reduction of staff. Second is a reduction in hours of operation. Third is of services to the public. And fourth is a reduction in our ability to preserve documents and artifacts.”
The Edwardsville-based museum is presently closed for renovations made possible by private donations, raising the question among some of why the museum isn’t entirely funded by private donations.
“I think we’d like to see the Historical Society become more robust in its fundraising,” Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler told IPI. “We’ve kind of been signaling that to them.”
In the past, Prenzler said, contributions coming from the county were covered by the general fund, but with a tighter budget now in place that is no longer an option.
After years of being in the minority, Republicans took over majority of the Madison County Board in 2016, largely based on a pledge to shrink government and increase government accountability.