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Museum reports deficit

July 19, 2000

Museum reports deficit



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is running a $57,000 annual operating deficit, which has forced the museum's board of trustees to dip into the museum's endowment to pay the bills.

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Museum representatives met Tuesday with Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council and the Washington County Commissioners to inform them of the museum's financial troubles and ask for more help in future years.

This year the museum is receiving $100,000 from the county and $12,000 from the city.

During the meeting, City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said the city funds improvements to City Park, which enhance the area around the museum and are therefore a benefit to the museum. She said the city has spent about $1.4 million over last 10 years on City Park improvements.

Museum board President William P. Young asked the two governments to increase their annual donations but he did not ask for a specific amount.

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Young said he did not know how much the museum might want from the city and county because its budget for next year is still being developed.

"The purpose of the meeting was to raise awareness" and not to ask for a specific dollar amount, Young said.

During the meeting, County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners will "take a serious look" at the museum's request for additional funds.

Young said the museum's annual operating budget is about $450,000, but the board would like the budget to be about $750,000 so the museum could add staff and still have funds for other operational expenses.

Annual museum operations currently cost about $57,000 more than revenues.

Young said the museum is dipping into its $3.8 million endowment to offset the operating deficit. He said the board has launched a fund-raising effort to try and pay back the endowment.

"We see it as a loan," Young said.

Museum Director Jean Woods said a big expense has been the temperature and humidity controls, which cost about $60,000 a year.

The museum opened in 1931 and attracts about 60,000 visitors annually, Young said.

Admission is free.

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