The county’s finance committee on Tuesday recommended a plan to spend up to $90,000 a year for three years to help get the Loudoun Museum back on its feet.
“It’s difficult for an entity like this to turn their ship around in a single year,” said County Administrator Tim Hemstreet. “They do need a lot of work, and what this is offering is that professional support to help them through that process.”
The museum previously came to the county board asking for help and warning that without immediate action, the museum would likely begin dissolution. The previous Board of Supervisors in December narrowly voted to help bail out the museum, which is in financial dire straits, and would take oversight control of the museum.
But county senior staff members have determined that doing so would threaten the independence of the museum’s Board of Trustees and, in the case of county government taking control, the museum’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
The new plan directs staff to find an outside vendor to provide development services to the museum. The county would sign and control the contract and a memorandum of understanding with the museum, which supervisors have suggested should also include accountability such as fundraising benchmarks and a requirement that museum Board of Trustees members raise or donate money.
The money for the outside vendor is already in the fiscal year 2017 county budget, to the tune of $156,000, including $91,000 for operating expenditures and $65,000 for hiring a development manager. That money will now be used for hiring the third party vendor, plus a transfer of funds to the museum of $66,000.
Finance committee members said they would like to look at using transient occupancy tax funds, which are earmarked for promoting tourism and travel, instead of general operating funds.
And while supervisors continue to be wary about giving more money to the perennially struggling museum, county Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said he is willing to give it one more chance.