Madison County ending taxpayer support of history museum

Madison County ending taxpayer support of history museum

During the past decade, one of the few taxpayer-supported local history museums in Illinois collected over $2 million. That is ending, but not before another $300,000 in taxes is handed to the museum.

Madison County’s taxpayer support of the county’s history museum is about to become history.

During the past decade, just over $2 million in county funds have gone to support the 97-year-old institution, which has received a property tax levy since 1964. The County Board voted Sept. 15 to end its association with the museum in Edwardsville, Illinois, as of Nov. 30 but also approved a parting gift of $300,000 for the museum.

The museum was the topic of a 2018 Illinois Policy Institute article, which found of 50 county historical societies surveyed in Illinois, only five received tax dollars. Madison County by far spent the most on its museum.

County leaders decided the $273,293 budgeted for the museum in 2018 was too much, so they cut $80,000 from the 2019 budget.

Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said at the time there was a valid question as to why the museum was not entirely funded by donations, as were most of its peer institutions.

“I think we’d like to see the historical society become more robust in its fundraising,” he said at the time. “We’ve kind of been signaling that to them.”

The museum received a property tax levy of .002 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which brought in $106,871 this year. The rest of this year’s roughly $209,000 budget was subsidized by other county funds.

The county will eliminate the property tax levy in 2022, Prenzler said.

He also said the museum leaders were seeking more independence, so the split is a win for both the county and museum.

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