Dubuque County supervisors approved a resolution Dec. 28 to allocate $22,000 for area historical societies — six months after they usually would have received the funding.
The county funds most of these societies each fiscal year.
Just like always, the societies sent their applications to the supervisors ahead of the county’s deadline to have the budget completed earlier this year. But then, in March, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the supervisors never returned to the issue. The new fiscal year started on July 1.
Several weeks ago, some of those smaller historical societies reached out, in need of the aid on which they typically depended.
“We were closed the first few months,” said Jane Bechen, of Dyersville Area Historical Society, during a recent Board of Supervisors meeting. “Since then, the numbers have been very low. So, our funding this year has been reduced. We have an employee who does a fantastic job, in our office that does genealogy, who we need to pay.”
The group also has a museum in what Bechen said is the oldest building in town, which needs regular upkeep.
The resolution passed Dec. 28 — an amendment to the county’s fiscal year 2021 budget — provides $720 each for Dyersville Area Historical Society, Epworth Community Historical Society, Farley Area Historical Society, New Vienna Historical Society and Tri-County Historical Society. It provides $900 to Dubuque County Historic Preservation Commission, whose members are appointed by supervisors.
The remaining $17,500 goes to Dubuque County Historical Society, headquartered at National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. That allocation is down from the $21,000 the group received in fiscal year 2020.
It also comes with an expectation that the Dubuque County Historical Society, which has full-time staff, act as a sort of back office for the smaller groups, which that staff agreed to.
The groups also have different expenses. The Epworth organization, for instance, mostly puts out a quarterly newsletter. So, the $720 from the county covers the printing and mailing cost for one of those issues, according to Betty Mausser, a member of that group.
In general, the county’s funding each year means more or less to each individual group, based on their activities and realities. That led County Supervisor Ann McDonough to request a more in-depth process for distributing these funds.
“How can we do this better?” she asked. “There was discussion about creating a committee, about looking to see and address what each (group’s) needs are.”
Those discussions likely will continue in developing the county’s budget for fiscal year 2022. But, on Dec. 28, she voted for the resolution at hand along with Supervisors Dave Baker and Jay Wickham without further discussion.