Joliet re-ups for museum funding
Bob Okon email@example.com November 20, 2012 10:06PM
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:38AM
JOLIET — The Joliet Area Historical Museum is getting another 10-year funding agreement with the city after a 5-4 vote Tuesday by the city council.
None of the city council members opposed assisting the museum, but some favored a shorter contract for the $200,000 annual contribution.
“I think 10 years in this economy is too great a commitment to make,” said Councilman Robert O’Dekirk, who had suggested cutting the agreement to five years.
Others suggested a contract length of anywhere from one year to seven years.
O’Dekirk and others said a potential drop in casino tax revenue could leave Joliet hard-pressed to provide the museum with $200,000 per year.
Supporters of the 10-year agreement expressed confidence that the museum board would not demand the $200,000 if the city could not pay it.
The city, which owns the museum building, will provide less money annually under the new contract. The 2013 budget provides $275,000, the same amount as this year but down from $350,000 in previous years.
Museum executive director Tony Contos said the city funds are important because organizations that provide grants to the museum see the city commitment as a sign that the museum is stable.
“The city council resolution speaks volumes to grant writers,” Contos said. “It’s a big deal to them.”
He said the museum has raised $463,000 during the last five years through grants and major individual contributions.
Councilman John Gerl, who suggested a seven-year agreement, said Joliet needs to show its commitment to the museum.
“We own it. We made that commitment 10 years ago,” Gerl said at a finance committee meeting Tuesday prior to the council’s vote. “If things go south, we own the museum. ... We’re either committed to it or we’re not.”
The Joliet Area Historical Museum opened in 2002 with the same funding agreement that was extended Tuesday.
Museum funding has been an issue in election campaigns. But even council members who wanted a shorter time frame for the contract made favorable comments Tuesday about the museum.
Voting for the 10-year extension were Mayor Thomas Giarrante and council members Susie Barber, Don Fisher, Terry Morris and Michael Turk. Voting no were O’Dekirk, Gerl, Larry Hug and Jan Quillman.