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David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

MinnPost and Philanthropy Potluck report on a prediction that the 2009-2010 biennium will begin with a $2 billion deficit for the State of Minnesota. Solving that problem will most likely result in tough choices that could restrict funding as in 2003-2004 when the state suffered a $4.5 billion deficit. Therefore, two questions: 1) have you had any early indications of what your local government partners are considering regarding your funding? and 2) what are some measures you are taking now to avoid severe financial problems that could begin next summer?

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3 Responses to Ready for 2009?

  1. Kathy Klehr says:

    We saw the writing on the wall last year. Like most Historical Societies, our major line item is payroll. So, when two staff positions opened up, we didn’t fill them. Instead we took the opportunity to reevaluate staffing needs and combined the tasks into one position. We also beefed up our volunteer and intern program to help fill in the gaps.

    Our county began their budget talks months early this year, an indication they may be making some deep cuts. Our finance committee also took a hard look at our budget and decided to prepare a budget that doesn’t reflect a decrease in support. On the other hand, we identified places where we can cut – but keep & support staff. We also are keeping government officials on the local and county level informed of our contribution to the county (inviting them to all events – setting up behind-the-scene tours, attending their meetings, sending regular “news” updates…)

    Early planning is the key – we are building strategic partnerships, making sure key county personnel know the public service we provide, and watching every penny.

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  2. An article in the June 18 edition of the Bemidji Pioneer discussed the troubles the Beltrami County Historical Society is having with their utility bills–$12,000 last year. Couple that with investments being slammed by lowered interest rates (have any of you renewed a CD lately?) and a bearish stock market, it is obvious we will be going through another tough period.

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  3. Mary Warner says:

    When it comes to funding from our county, we never take anything for granted. It’s rare for any public entity to suddenly have a windfall and extra money to allocate to public works. Like Kathy, we watch every penny, plus, we’re fully willing and able to discuss how every penny gets spent at our organization.

    I believe it was during 2003/04 that our county started creating its budget earlier than it had been and we’ve still got that early schedule today. A new feature this year that we received with our notification of the budget meetings was a form that we have to fill out that basically asks us to justify our organization’s worth to the county. While we have supplied this info to the county commissioners in the past, this is the first time the county has asked for specifics on our programs and services, rather than just our financial information.

    We sympathize with the county commissioners in that making decisions with a tight budget isn’t fun. The unfunded mandates they have to deal with have a greater ripple effect than those higher up the chain realize.

    Reply

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