City allocates extra funding to Chamber, historical society
Funds previously used by the City of Holton to underwrite activities overseen by the now-defunct Holton Main Street organization will be split down the middle and distributed to the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson County Historical Society, the Holton City Commission decided on Tuesday.
Previously, Holton Main Street had received $10,000 from the city to fulfill the city’s commitment to the downtown development program. However, the program shut down at the end of 2014, citing a lack of state support and the resignation of its executive director.
In the aftermath, representatives of the Chamber and the Historical Society approached commissioners about using funds previously earmarked for Main Street for their benefit. During the commission’s regular meeting on Tuesday — held a day later than usual due to the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday observance on Monday — Commissioner Tim Morris agreed to split $5,000 of that amount between both groups.
“I am a dues-paying member of the Chamber and a dues-paying member of the Historical Society,” Morris said. “But I have no problem sitting here and doing this… As far as how much we can help them, hopefully there will be some more money in the future.”
Historical Society treasurer Anna Wilhelm met with commissioners on Tuesday to reiterate a request first made in December for funds for the historical society’s benefit. The request was the first such occasion that the society had come to the city for financial support, Wilhelm told commissioners.
Wilhelm also updated commissioners on Historical Society activities that bring people into Holton and the surrounding area, such as the annual barn tour and Cruise Night, the latter of which had previously been a Main Street-promoted event. Furthermore, all of the work done by the Historical Society is done on a volunteer basis, she added.
Morris said he saw no problem with splitting $5,000 of the $10,000 formerly allocated to Main Street, but at first he advocated giving $4,000 of it to the Chamber and $1,000 to the Historical Society, later amending it to $3,500 and $1,500, respectively. The reason for this, he said, was that the Chamber would be absorbing the majority of activities and programs overseen by Main Street.
However, other commissioners recommended a 50/50 split, with Commissioner Twila White saying she “can’t see why we can’t go half-and-half” on the $5,000. Mayor Robert Dieckmann agreed, saying he thought it was “amazing” that the work the Historical Society does is “all volunteer.”
Morris agreed to splitting the $5,000 down the middle, suggesting that there may be room for more in the future.
“We have money now because we’ve paid down our debts,” he said. “We’ve got two organizations that are worthy of our help.”
If it came to a vote, Commissioner Erich Campbell pledged to abstain from the vote as he was vice president of the Historical Society’s board of directors. However, Holton City Manager Bret Bauer said an immediate vote was not necessary but wanted clarification for “a future agenda item,” and the commission agreed to the 50/50 split by consensus.