Council debates historical society funding request


November 18, 2021

The Cathlamet Town Council had no comments from citizens when it held a public hearing on the proposed 2022 budget Monday, but council members had plenty to say.

Council Member Robert Stowe objected to a possible appropriation of $5,000 to the Wahkiakum County Historical Society for support of the historical museum.

The society sought and received a similar appropriation in the 2021 budget, saying it would be a one time request.

"Now they're here again," he said. "I'm very uncomfortable with them asking for another $5,000."

The society and museum are a community, not town, function, he said, and the town "shouldn't be on the hook for five grand every time they want it."

Council Members Laurel Waller and David Olson said they think support of the museum is appropriate.

Waller said the museum is an important asset for tourism.

Olson, retiring president of the historical society, commented that every county in the region has a museum to preserve their cultural heritage.

Council Member Bill Wainwright said the society and museum are operated outside council jurisdiction and that the request wasn't for a specific need, just undetermined future needs. He worried that it would be a gift of public funds to a private party.

Town Attorney Fred Johnson commented that state statutes say museums serve a public purpose and can legitimately receive municipal funding.

The council took no action on the issue; they will act on the budgets in December meetings.


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