Breckenridge Texan

City approves funding for Swenson Memorial Museum, continues discussions on YMCA building’s future

City approves funding for Swenson Memorial Museum, continues discussions on YMCA building’s future
August 09
08:43 2018

Breckenridge city commissioners voted to provide financial assistance to the Swenson Memorial Museum and discussed the future of the YMCA building in downtown Breckenridge at their meeting on Tuesday night. They also approved tax rates and discussed voluntary water conservation efforts as water levels in area lakes continue to decline.

­­Financial assistance to the Swenson Memorial Museum
Following a presentation on the finances of the Swenson Memorial Museum by Board Treasurer Scott Harris, commissioners voted to approve $2,500 in financial assistance to the group in next year’s city budget.

Swenson Memorial Museum Board Treasurer Scott Harris gives Breckenridge City Commissioners an update on the museum’s finances during their meeting on Tuesday night. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

City Manager Andy McCuistion told commissioners that he had included half of the group’s request for assistance in next year’s city budget, which was presented to them during the budget workshop earlier.

“He came to me before I presented you the budget at the workshop and I put half of what their request was in there, and I communicated to him that I didn’t want this to be depended on annually but that we’ll do it for this year and see how it goes, a year at a time,” McCuistion said. “But I also told him my hope is that we can get the American Legion Building open and start bingo games in there and that the non-profits in town can participate in that and generate revenues for their use that way.”

During his presentation to commissioners, Harris said they had made some changes at the museum to cut costs. He said they were no longer going to have a full-time paid director, which cut down on salary costs, and they were using three part-time employees.

He said their major expenses are utilities and insurance, which he said they couldn’t control that much. Also, he said, they just had to replace an air conditioner that went out. They were able to get the Economic Development Corporation to fund half of that cost, and they solicited a grant to pay for the other half.

City commissioner David Wimberley (left) and other members of the Breckenridge City Commission listen as Scott Harris (pictured above) gives an update on the Swenson Memorial Museum’s financial situation. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“We’re hoping that air conditioner will cause our utility bills to go down. With an improved, more efficient air conditioner, hopefully it won’t use as much electricity,” Harris said . “Of course, that building is the old First National Bank building. It’s probably a 100-year-old building; we have continued repair and maintenance expenses.”

Harris said they are working on other funding sources, applying for grants on regular basis and trying to do other fundraisers within the community.

“We do get considerable contributions, but we’re still running short on having enough revenue to cover our operating expenses.” Harris said.

He told commissioners the museum is well attended and had a little more than 100 people per month visit last year. In 2017 he said there were 1,228 visitors; 922 were from the Breckenridge area, 243 from within Texas, 48 from out of state and nine from outside the United States.

So far in 2018, he said, there have been a total of 775 visitors; 588 from the Breckenridge area, 151 from other parts of Texas, 33 from out of state and three from out of the United States.

Continued YMCA building discussions
Also during their meeting, commissioners discussed the status and disposition of the YMCA building in downtown Breckenridge with a group of citizens who were at the meeting to show their support for saving the building.

McCuistion told them commissioners had authorized him to look at selling the YMCA building and that during their last meeting there had been in discussions of a possible buyer for the building.  However, he said, since then, the buyers head changed their minds and were no longer interested in purchasing the building.

McCuistion said the first step in saving the building is to raise money for a new roof.  He said he contacted six roofing companies about replacing the roof and received two bids. It will cost around $67,000.

However, before the roof is replaced, a structural engineer will need to look at the building and determine if it makes sense to put a new roof on the building or if there is other work that may need to be done before the roof is replaced, McCuistion said.

One idea for replacing the roof that the city manager proposed to commissioners and the citizens at the meeting is that if a group of citizens raised 90 percent of the money for replacing the roof, the city could agree to pay for a structural engineer to do the engineering work that would be necessary before replacing the roof.

“The building is just sitting there, deteriorating as we speak,” he said. “The faster we can do it, the better it is for the building.”

McCuistion said because of the shape the building is in, replacing the roof is just the first step and after that there will be more funding required because there is other damage in the building. He said the roof will be required just to keep it from deteriorating further.

“Really this kind of project needs an angel; it needs somebody to take charge of it,” McCuistion said.

Pat Knight, one of the citizens attending the meeting, said, “If you’re going to have the community raise the money, would it be maybe possible to have a committee that would have some kind of say so on what was being done in there? Have kind of a board, maybe, of some interested people?”

McCustion agreed and said he thought the commissioners would want something like that, too.

Following the discussions, commissioners approved a resolution that said when 90 percent of the money is raised for the roof, the city will get a structural engineer to check out the building.

Taxable value and tax calculations approved
Also during the meeting, commissioners approved the 2018 certified taxable value for the City of Breckenridge set by the Stephens County appraisal rolls at $193,665,686.

They also approved the calculations for the 2018 Effective Tax Rate. McCuistion said because the City’s debt rate decreased and sales taxes increased, the adjusted roll-back rate of $1.02063 was calculated to be lower than the effective rate of $1.02324. So commissioners approved a tax rate of $1.02000, which is lower than the effective tax rate by $0.00324.

Commissioners voted to cancel the August 21 and 28 public hearings. McCuistion said because the tax rate is lower than both the effective and roll-back tax, the public hearings for the rates will not be required.

Communities and schools project
Commissioners also held the second and final reading of a resolution allowing the Breckenridge Economic Development Corporation to spend up to $27,500 for a project with the Breckenridge Independent School District and the Communities in Schools of the Big Country, a Texas non-profit corporation.

The money will be used to partially fund a program provided by CIS to the BISD to provide a school-based Student Success Coach to help high school students improve school performance in the areas of attendance, academics and behavior.

Anytime the BEDC spends more than $10,000, they are required to have permission from the city after two readings of the resolution. Commissioners held the first reading of the resolution at their July 3 meeting.

Virgil Moore, Executive Director of the BEDC, said during the July meeting that BISD plans to raise the other half of the funds for the program. Also, he said, if the school tax election this month passes, the district will be able to raise enough funds to pay for the entire program and will not need the funds from the BEDC. The BEDC funds will be used as backup funds in case the election does not pass.

TCEQ asks community for voluntary water conservation
During his city manager’s report, McCuistion said the city had received a letter from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality saying water levels in area lakes were beginning to decline and asking the city to look at voluntarily supporting water conservation.

Public Works Director Houston Satterwhite said Hubbard Creek Lake was at 75 percent capacity and that Abilene had already gone to a three-day water plan. He said TCEQ and the city are trying to get everybody to go to voluntary water conservation.

“We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Satterwhite said. “Hopefully, we’ll we get a good wet winter coming, but I think it’s time to get ahead of the curve right now and get some voluntary conservation going. We need to be conscious of what we’re doing.”

McQuistion said Hubbard Creek Lake is seven feet above Stage 1 drought conditions and if it drops by seven more feet the City will go into Stage 1 drought conditions.

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion discusses the status of the YMCA building with supporters of the building during the city commissioner’s meeting Tuesday night. The group wants to restore the building, which the city owns. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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