Council agrees to give OHS $30,000
Olds town council agreed to give the Olds Historical Society (OHS) $30,000 in instalments over the next two years, at its regular meeting last week.
Council unanimously agreed to town administration’s recommendation that $17,500 be included in the remainder of the 2012 budget and that another $12,500 be included in the 2013 budget which will be discussed near the end of this year.
The funding will be tied to a quarterly evaluation of how the OHS is progressing on, among other things, the recruitment of a minimum of six OHS board members who will commit to a two-year term on the board while the society rebuilds itself. Board members and museum staff will also participate in a governance workshop to ensure there is a clear understanding of goals and responsibilities. The OHS board will also develop a short- and medium-term plan with identified achievable milestones that will move it forward to a more sustainable future. The board is also expected to achieve matching funds on a quarterly basis as proposed in the OHS business plan that was previously presented to council, before the town’s funds are released to the OHS. The town and the OHS will also be working together on a funding agreement that ties the OHS to achieving the targets set forth by the town. The OHS will also be working on a sustainability plan for the future following May 31, 2013. Town councillors also confirmed in the resolution that the OHS will develop a “realistic and achievable budget tied to the deliverables.”
Donna Erdmann, chair of the OHS, told councillors that she is committed to working on the recommendations laid out by town administration.
Asked by Coun. Mary Jane Harper how the OHS feels about the recommendations the town has presented to the OHS, Erdmann said all of them have been discussed in the past by board members and that the board will take a serious look at them once again in September once the summer is over.
“I see nothing but very positive things coming,” Erdmann said.
Coun. Wade Bearchell said he is concerned about the timelines and wanted council to have the ability to discuss the OHS’s progress on the recommendations at a regular interval. Barbara Hill, the town’s director of community services, said administration will report back to council on a quarterly basis and that council could have an opportunity to provide input at that time.
Bearchell also asked if council would have the ability to not advance the funds to the OHS if council deemed that the OHS wasn’t making as much progress on the recommendations as council would like. Norm McInnis, the town’s chief administrative officer, said the OHS needs to have some certainty on the level of support the town will be making to it, and that town administration would be working with the board to ensure the OHS has the funding it needs going into the future.
Following the passage of the motion, Erdmann told councillors she was grateful for the support of the town.
“On behalf of the Olds Historical Society, I thank the town for its support,” she said.
After the meeting, Erdmann said she was asking for council’s support “so that we can regroup, … put board members back on, and hopefully … move forward. The museum is 38 years old, we do not want to close,” she said.
Erdmann said by the end of September, the board hopes to have new members as well as some training for them on what being a board member entails, and get started on a sustainability plan.
In the meantime, Erdmann said the museum is putting on a display by the Olds photography club, and ArtWalk will be displaying pieces in July and August trying to attract visitors by giving them something new to view.
Erdmann said by working with town representatives, the future plan will be much stronger than if the OHS did it alone.
“We want to work with them so that what we end up with will be a museum that they’re proud of, that we’re proud of, that … gives the community the information and the other things a museum should do,” she said.
McInnis said he thinks the OHS is on track with its business plan and is confident that with the help of the community services department the museum will come back with a stronger purpose.
“I’m really happy that our community services department will be working with the historical society and trying to reinvigorate their board, get their management back in shape and get them back to a point where they are providing the services that they really want to provide as far as heritage management and museum services go,” he said.
McInnis said the hope is that the board begins to deliver on some of the recommendations by the end of the year.