Commission to offer ‘cultural grants’
Historical groups and museums in Leavenworth County will share 4.2 percent more funding from the county commission in 2008 than in 2007, but the aid will funneled out as competitive grants.
Commissioners decided Monday to make available $100,000 in "cultural grants" for museums and other historical groups. The grant program would be opened to competitive requests from nonprofit organizations in the county and will support program-oriented, acquisition-oriented and preservation-oriented projects that focus on culture or are of a historic nature and could spur tourism in Leavenworth.
"(The cultural grants) are taking the monkey off our, the commission's back," Commissioner Dean Oroke said. "We're no longer just handing over money to various entities but are making them a participant."
The cultural grant process is a distinct change from years past when individual budget requests were made by various museums and agencies and awarded in a piecemeal fashion.
In the 2007 county budget, $96,000 was allocated to county museums for 2007: $46,000 made available to the Leavenworth Historical Society housed in the Carroll Mansion in Leavenworth; $25,000 to the First City Museum in Leavenworth; $10,000 to the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth; and $5,000 apiece to historical museums in Lansing, Tonganoxie and Basehor.
Applicants will begin submitting grant requests in September, and grant recipients must verify their ability to match individual grant awards, commissioners decided.
Grants will be provided only to groups that spell out exactly what programs they will fund. Salaries for museum directors will not be included as eligible costs under the cultural grants as in years past, but salaries for researchers and part-time staff will be.
"What we're trying to do is stay out of the business of hiring people and get in the business of helping out different museums and cultural centers that are going to increase our attractiveness," Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said. "We're trying to put our money to better use."
To further ensure that grant money is being spent appropriately, costs will be reimbursed only after they are incurred.
"With reimbursement, we're going to get the true cost of these programs," Oroke said.
While the motion to adopt the cultural grant process passed unanimously, Commissioner Clyde Graeber expressed some concern that certain entities involved might not understand what the process fully entails.
"I'm not faulting this," he said. "I'm just saying I'm not sure if everyone fully understands how this is going to affect them."
The opinions voiced by museum employees present at Monday's meeting were -- for the most part -- supportive of the new system.
"We think it's a good program," said Del Sanders, president of the board of the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association Inc., which operates the C.W. Parker Museum, the National Fred Harvey Museum and First City Museum in Leavenworth. "It's a good way to go about it. There's fairness and good consideration for all of the programs in the county."
Also Monday, the board continued to work to find a solution for file storage and document imaging for several county agencies.
Commissioners reviewed a report prepared by Information Systems Director Larry Malbrough, which estimated the total cost of storing and scanning all documents from the District Court, County Attorney's Office, Child Support Enforcement, Community Corrections, Court Services and City/County Probation at $134,500.
That figure reflects new hardware, software and scanning stations, as well as $40,000 to convert all of the District Court's files onto microfilm, the only current, state-approved method for reproduction of court records.
Previous options weighed by the commission included renovating the old jail adjacent to the county Justice Center for dead-file storage, demolishing the jail and adding onto the Justice Center, building a metal storage structure and leasing real estate off-site at a building somewhere in Leavenworth.
The projected costs of those options ranged from approximately $720,000 to $900,000, according to estimates by Treanor Architects of Topeka.
Tellefson said a $134,000 price tag was a great improvement over a nearly $1 million expenditure, but also noted that Malbrough's report did not speak to personnel or additional storage that might still be needed for the District Court.
The court is mandated to retain physical copies of its records for up to 10 years, so more recent files must still be kept on hand.
"Our strong preference is that some space be made for the District Court in the basement of the Justice Center or in some alternate facility," said Steve Crossland, District Court administrator.
With more than 700,000 images in storage for the District Court alone, hiring personnel to scan documents would most likely be necessary as well.
And with noncounty personnel, Commissioner Graeber said, security is a big issue.
He said workers involved in a document-imaging project could not be minimum wage employees and would have to have experience handling secure documents.
"What I'm thinking about is: Is this the right way; the only way; the best way?" Graeber asked.
Malbrough emphasized that in the long-term, a document-imaging program that reduces storage space and allows records to be fully indexed and searched would save the county money.
Also, he said, once the hardware was in place, other departments could utilize the technology as well.
"If you address this problem now, I can tie other agencies in easily that could benefit from it," Malbrough said. "There are lots of departments that don't have an imaging package that could get on board easily now too."
No action was taken Monday.
"I want the full costs," Oroke said, adding he would be willing to entertain a motion in one week.
As of now, nothing will be done to the old jail until further notice.
In business Thursday, the board:
- Met with safety committee members Kim Jackson and Wanda Doty to discuss a new safety and incentives program for county workers.
In an effort to reduce the amount of on-the-job accidents, all accident-free employees will be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to area businesses each month.
"If we show employees that they're going to get something substantial ... they'll be more responsive to this," Doty said.
- Voted, 2-0 (Graeber was absent), to issue a board order reflecting findings in regard to a claim for reimbursement by John and Diane Aaron discussed in a June 14 meeting.
The Aarons were awarded $27,000 for damage incurred when a property they own on 147th Street west of Lansing was realigned in 2003.
The award is to be paid from the county's special liability fund.
- Met in two, 10-minute executive sessions behind closed doors to discuss potential and pending litigation.
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