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Depot Museum looks to balance budget

JOHNSBURG-In recent months, the Depot Museum of North Creek has been struggling to balance its budget through the work of a budget finance committee. Their efforts brought several substantial changes this past week - Ray Flanigan, a member of the committee was named president of the Depot Museum and the position of director was eliminated.

The museum faced a financial crisis this year that, without significant cuts, would have forced them to balance their budget by borrowing from their trust fund, according to Flanigan.

Flanigan replaced Helene Miner after her five years of service to the Depot Museum. Miner will remain on the board of directors as chairman of the executive committee. Bill Bibby was elected vice-president.

"We realized as we moved forward with programming and improvements that, [financially] things were not getting better - they were getting worse," Flanigan said. "We had to take significant action to assure the stability and financial future of the museum and to continue its high standards of presentations."

With the rising cost of fuel, insurance premiums, struggling fundraisers and five-year mortgage on the Owens House, of which they have only been able to pay the interest on, money was as tight as it's ever been in recent weeks. The museum now pays for $150,000 in insurance coverage for an exhibit that only cost $80,000, according to Flanigan.

The committee explored several options including closing the museum for a period during the coldest months, which saved them $600 in past years.

The money saved, however, was lost when repairs had to be made to several exhibits in the museum, which had been damaged from the cold. Also, the space heaters that provided minimal heat while the museum was closed were determined a fire hazard.

The committee also negotiated several contracts, but could still not find a balance in their budget. Therefore, steps were taken beyond staffing that include the transfer of the Owens House mortgage to a bank loan. Also, grants will be used to cover some administrative costs as they are not usually enough to cover exhibit implementation, according to Flanigan.

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