Every year the Dauphin County board of commissioners gives the National Civil War Museum $300 thousand dollars, but now the city council has asked the county to stop payment. “We’re taking it very seriously. We’ve had several meetings with the museum and we’re planning to have them come before the board of commissioners for a presentation” said Dauphin County board of commissioners chief clerk Chad Saylor.
Harrisburg’s mayor said the museum is misusing the money by paying for salaries and basic operations rather than for promotion of tourism like it’s supposed to, but the county isn’t as convinced as the mayor. “The initial look, what we do know, is that they do have a plan that they have to market the museum with billboards and other things that they do to promote and bring people in” said Saylor.
The mayor has also said that the museum only pays one dollar per year for rent when the city could be collecting as much as half a million dollars. The museum’s CEO Wayne Motts acknowledged they pay barely any rent, but that’s what the lease says. It also says something else. “According to our lease the city is to do capital repairs here for projects and the museum has assumed all those bills” said Motts.
Motts said those bills cost about $150 thousand dollars and doesn’t know why the city is so involved considering they don’t pay any of the museums $1.1 million dollar annual budget. At the end of the day all Motts wants is to keep his museum’s doors open. “This is a first class facility that brings visitors here to this area and provides an economic benefit to the community at large” said Motts.
The mayors office released a report that says roughly 66 percent of the money given to the museum was used for salaries. The Dauphin County board of commissioners said they will review all the information and make their decision on whether to suspend payment within the next few weeks.