A recent decision by the Kernersville Board of Aldermen to help fund the start-up costs of the new executive director position at the Kernersville Museum, while noble, seemed rushed and unplanned.
During last week’s Board meeting, the aldermen approved a four-year deal worth $116,000 to provide financial support to the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors as they look to expand their operations. As part of the agreement, the Town agreed to give the Board of Directors $50,000 during the 2016-2017 fiscal year to pay the $44,000 salary and spend up to $6,000 purchasing furniture and office supplies. Then, in the second year, the Town would contribute $33,000 toward the salary, $22,000 in the year three and $11,000 in the fourth and final year. This would be in addition to the $20,000 the museum currently receives as part of the Town’s support to local non-profit organizations.
We appreciate the efforts of the community to support the new Kernersville Museum and the Kernersville Depot, and would even agree that some of that support should come from the Town. However, we question the manner in which this decision was made and the rationale behind hiring a full-time person.
The request to provide financial assistance to the new staff person was made as part of the Kernersville Museum’s annual report to the aldermen early on in the Board’s regular meeting. But the motion to approve the financing didn’t come until the very end of the meeting and included very little discussion. Instead, the motion to include the $50,000 in the budget being proposed by Town staff next month was made as part of the closing remarks by Board members and unanimously approved. That decision gave the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors the green light to immediately start the hiring process, even though the budget hasn’t even been finalized and the money would not be available until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Would it not have made more sense for the aldermen to tell the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors that they would take their request under consideration when deliberating the annual budget and report back to them once the budget work sessions were complete? Yes, it takes time to conduct a complete and thorough search for the ideal candidate and waiting until the approval of the budget in late June to hire someone the first week in July would be too late, but a decision could have been made over the next few weeks instead of in a single night, allowing more citizen input.
Further, the Kernersville News would be interested in learning more from the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors about how this new executive director will be using their time. We realize there is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes before the museum can really open its doors to the public on a regular basis, including fundraising, organizing artifacts and establishing a variety of programming, but maybe a better option at this time would have been to hire a part-time person or even two part-time people so both locations can be staffed at the same time. A second option could have been to partner with the Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department by adding a full-time staff member to their roster and giving this person the responsibility of managing the museum and depot in addition to working with other downtown projects.
This way additional staff members could be assigned during peak event times.
Don’t get us wrong, we are in full support of the Kernersville Museum and believe it, along with the Kernersville Depot, are welcomed additions to the downtown landscape. We see these locations thriving during community events throughout the year and are excited to see what the future holds for them. We just would have liked to have seen the aldermen take more time to properly deliberate and execute its plan. We feel that many more questions should have been asked by the aldermen and the public of the Board of Directors before committing taxpayer money to the project. $44,000 is a decent amount of money, and the citizens deserve to know more about what that money will be used for.