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County board releases balance of 2011 historical society funds
The Le Sueur County Board took action at its Tuesday, Jan. 15 meeting to finally remove funds from the books which had been budgeted for operations of the county historical society in 2011.
Approval to release the balance, $23,479, came on a split vote of 3-2, with Commissioners Wetzel, King and Rohlfing in favor, Connolly and Gliszinski opposed, after an earlier motion by King to release 50 percent of the remaining funds was denied because of lack of a second. Connolly, a veteran of the board, has often objected to the manner in which the society has been operating, and said it was his understanding that this matter would be discussed at a February meeting. Gliszinski, a newcomer to the board, questioned “if the commissioners should have some say in where the money goes,” and wanted further clarification on the line of credit which had been listed on a society expense report.
Jennifer Urban, an attorney representing the Le Sueur County Historical Society (LCHS), was on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, and said she “was here today to answer any questions and request the release of the remaining 2011 funds.”
Urban briefly explained the non-profit status of the LCHS and by-laws spelling out membership criteria. Board chair Rohlfing said the balance of funds from 2011 was approximately $23,500, and the question is, “Do we fund the society or not?” He added that there must be a membership plan and annual reports of society activities. He also commented that an additional $20,000 has been budgeted in 2013 that could be made available, but has not been designated for historical functions.
Commissioner King said he believes the county must have a policy on non-profits and “our responsibility is to collect taxes and oversee the proper use of county funds.” He said he would favor release of the funds upon expiration of any appeal process concerning the LCHS (referring to recent court decision determining which group is the official historical society).
The final vote came following comments by County Attorney Brent Christian, when asked his opinion on release of funds when an appeal of the court’s decision could still be made. “I’ve said it before—this is ridiculous. You are spending hours on this issue, representing only a very small fraction of the county budget. Either release or not, and be finished with it!”
King’s motion then died for lack of second, and Wetzel’s motion to release was seconded by King and approved 3-2.
No meeting next week
The county board will not be holding a regular meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 22, but will hold a joint meeting with the Nicollet County Board at Gustavus College starting at 11:30 a.m.