I read with disappointment the report on the Ilwaco City Council's discussion regarding the museum's lease.
If the city wants to set the museum up as a renter in an arrangement such as they have with PACE, is the city now going to write grants to pay for the upkeep of the building? Who will pay the city's grantwriter? I was frankly surprised that Mr. Greene did not seem to understand that the museum raises the money to support the city's property at no cost to the city other than utilities and insurance. How can that compare with the economic impact the museum has on the area?
What about the various entities that use the big room there? Are they to be charged high rent so the museum can afford the water in their public restrooms? How can the museum gain grants without long-term lease arrangements? Who would grant money to an organization that has a short-term lease? Grantors want to invest in long-term sustainability.
The sewer and water bills are small compared to the money visitors drop in the area coming to the museum. Members of the museum, like myself, depend on the city to value the museum's mission and purpose, including the economic development focus for the area.
The newspaper report left me with the impression the council is shortsighted and out of touch with the impact the museum has made in Southwest Washington. Since the museum owns the upgrades they have made, how will you remove the bathroom stalls and all the exhibits when they are forced to close?
Think about long-term investment here. You're talking about saving a penny when you'll lose many dollars as a result. This is not good fiscal management. This is lack of vision and not enough time brainstorming new ways to bring in funds to the city. How about asking local folks for their ideas on how to save money? The governor did it.
I recommend a long-term lease so the museum can qualify for grants to keep the city's property well maintained and even upgraded. Does the city have funds for a new roof and a new heat pump? Which is less output for the city? Supplying water and sewer or hiring a grant writer or paying for a new roof? Where will the dollars come from that are lost to the area if the museum has to close?
Think long and hard about what you're considering and give the museum all the breaks you can. This is your property so it's your responsibility to make sure it's well maintained. Are you willing to take on one more maintenance person? This is just maintenance of your own infrastructure, nothing more.
Charging the museum for water and sewer, even rent, will not save your budget and it will hurt local businesses who like the museum's visitors to come see them, too.