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Read letters opposing Historical Commission budget cuts

Sun-Sentinel story on County Commission's decision

In order to be able to have an approved FY 11 budget, the County Commission made additional cuts. Included in that was cutting $275,000 and all three staff positions from the Historical Commission budget. The remaining $49,000 was left in place to fund the archaeologist contract.

This action includes consolidating all Historical Commission functions with the Libraries Division. Operations, including staffing, including contract staff, will remain the same for 90 days to allow for a transition period. At this point, there is no indication that there will be jobs for the current Historical Commission staff with the exception of the curator and the contract archaeologist.

The County Administrator has stated that the collections will remain at the West Side Grade School and that there will be some public access. However, there are still many unknowns. What hasn't been resolved is how the collection will be made available to researchers, and how the history education and historic preservation functions will be affected.

The Historical Commission board will remain intact but it is unclear what support will be provided or how that support will occur.

Regarding the Trust Fund, the expenditures must be authorized by a majority vote of the Historical Commission to support its mission. The County is obligated under its lease for the building to make the meeting room available to certain neighborhood organizations such as the Sailboat Bend Civic Association, the Condominium HOA and the artist lofts next door. Making this space available on evenings and weekends is still an issue. Also, there are several issues in ordinances that will have to be identified and changed.



Distributed August 2010

Since 2007, Broward County, like all other counties and municipalities in the State of Florida, has experienced a significant budget crisis.

Between 2007 and the current budget year, the Historical Commission budget has been reduced by 43.4% while the overall County general fund has been reduced by only 16.3%.

At the June 22, 2010 County Commission budget workshop, the County Administrator presented her proposed fiscal year 2011 general fund budget.
The proposal addresses the decrease in tax revenue from the current year by:

  • reducing spending;
  • increasing in the mil rate by approximately ¼ mil, and;
  • transferring a small amount of funding from reserves

In her base proposal, the County Administrator recommended no cuts for the Historical Commission.

Anticipating that the county Commission may choose not to raise the mil rate, the County Administrator went on to recommend what she termed “severe operational cuts. Included in these additional cuts is the following:

“Limit Historical Commission Building access to major events run by volunteers eliminating total budget except for archeological contract”

Should this alternate recommendation be adopted, the Historical Commission would cease to exist as a service for the residents, businesses and visitors of Broward County while resulting in a general fund savings of just $275,000 or $.15 per capita.

The Broward County Historical Commission serves the entire county and its services contribute to both the cultural community and the vitality of the tourism industry of Broward County.

The elimination of the Historical Commission would leave a void in the County; therefore some preventive measures must be taken.

The Historical Commission Budget Committee has met and determined that a show of support in the form of letter/email writing to the County Commission from the historical organizations boards and their membership as well as concerned civic and business groups and individuals would be appropriate.

The following is a list of facts regarding the historical commission for reference in preparing your correspondence.

The Broward County Historical Commission:

  • Up to and including the current fiscal year the Commission budget has been cut 43.4% while the overall County general fund has decreased only 16.3%
  • Has existed since 1972
  • Manages and protects irreplaceable and valuable historical collections associated with Broward County history
  • Is the primary source for Countywide historical research
  • Is the primary source for Countywide history education
  • Has expanded services with rotating exhibits on County history and meeting rooms for educational activities
  • Has initiated planning for the County’s centennial in 2015
  • Is working with historical organizations in creating a heritage coalition in Broward County
  • Has assisted municipalities throughout County by providing:
    • Protection for historic resources
    • Technical assistance on improvements to historic structures
    • Guidance on archaeological sites
    • Research assistance
    • Talks and presentations on local history

Broward County recently spent $2.4 Million to rehabilitate the historic West Side Grade School as the new state of the art headquarters for the Historical Commission, and over 300 citizens came to the grand opening to show strong support for the Historical Commission and the new headquarters.

The bottom line is that the cuts to the Historical Commission budget will cause damage. Without funds for upkeep and personnel at the $2.4 million headquarters the archives will deteriorate, Pioneer Day and the Heritage Coalition of Broward County will be eliminated, and aid to city historic societies/historic preservation boards and applications for state and federal historic grants will come to a halt.

Heritage tourism is the No. 2 activity of tourists who travel in the U.S. and in Florida. Broward County needs to enhance not limit the opportunities to showcase its cultural heritage and attract tourists.