Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

January 16, 2014

Gaunt balanced budget OK'd for History Center

TRAVERSE CITY — The cash-strapped History Center of Traverse City has only $41,000 in the bank and must borrow $8,000 from one its modest savings accounts to ensure it can make payroll this month.

Board members this week approved a stripped-down $220,250 balanced budget for 2014 and authorized treasurer Steve Morris to transfer money from its Julius Petertyl Fund to cover January operating expenses.

The fund was set up in 2008 after Petertyl, a former Traverse City history buff, died at age 103 and left $121,000 in his will to the then-Traverse Area Historical Society to be used for educational purposes.

Steve Harold, board chairman, said the fund transfer was necessary to help manage cash flow. The History Center board, in an effort to close its budget gap, last week eliminated the position of executive director Bill Kennis, who had worked there two years.

“We definitely should be able to pay it back in July,” Harold said of the money the board pulled from the center’s savings to cover payroll liabilities for the first month of its fiscal year.

The History Center receives its three major sources of income in the second half of the year: $50,000 from the city, a projected $50,000 from the Legos exhibit, and an expected $30,000 from the Festival of Trains.

The 2014 spending plan is $126,187 leaner than the $346,437 spent last year. It also shows that the nonprofit lost $53,804 last year because its most profitable events didn’t meet expectations.

The popular Festival of Trains brought in about $36,000 in 2012 and was expected to fetch $38,000, according to the center’s 2013 budget. In the end, it earned only $24,388. Meanwhile, expenses were projected at $9,009, but totaled $10,243.

Last year’s spending plan was built on an anticipated income of $329,600, but revenues totaled only $292,632 – about $37,000 less than that.

Meanwhile, the center overspent its $329,600 budget allowance by nearly $17,000.

Salary and benefits for 2014 amount to $85,324 for the three staff members – full-time curator Maddie Buteyn, part-time archivist Peg Siciliano and part-time events/social media assistant Laura Wilcox Wilson, who each are budgeted to work up to 30 hours per week.

The History Center houses both the Con Foster collection, owned by the city, and the History Center-owned historical archives and photographs.

The new budget also includes returning $4,105 to the Petertyl Fund, which will have a total $30,000 remaining once the board repays $15,000 in earlier transfers.

Siciliano said the Petertyl Fund has been used over the years for educational school programs and publications and an internship program.

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