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Letter to the Editor: Costs of Oliver Paipoonge Heritage Park

Oliver Paipoonge council is considering repairs to the Highway 61 museum

For the record, we are not opposed to the museum. We are strongly opposed to pouring so much more money into any facility that is so poorly attended. If the museum annual deficit was less than $50,000 we would support the continued loss. However, the approved budget is more than double that figure.

Numbers are taken directly from the municipal website museum page, the Feb. 1 museum letter, the approved 2023 budget or the Nov. 23, 2022 draft budget. The calculated costs are ours.

On May 2, a news item was placed on the municipal website regarding the Rosslyn water situation. This is a quote from the last line: "Another element of this matter is financing. How costs will be covered is yet to be determined. Council will need to grapple with financing as cost forecasts become available."

It is contaminated with arsenic. Money is required for the water system.

On May 9 council was asked to approve an RFP for Museum repairs. The Nov. 23, 2022 agenda draft budget proposes $1.2 million in museum capital spending, which includes general store and village square repairs totalling $334,789. The Museum board presented council with a list of repairs totalling $189,073 for the store and square on Feb. 1. In the final budget, council approved capital spending of $24,000. Will council tack on another $189,073 or go the distance and spend the full $334,789? Mayor Kloosterhuis said the average would be about $90,000 per year, but that does not include the yearly deficits the museums have always incurred. In the 2023 budget that amount is $126,951.

Now that the actual operational hours and days of operation are posted on the municipal website for the museum we took the time to break things down to taxpayer cost per hour of operation. According to the posted schedule the museum will be open a total of 270 hours between May 20 and Sept. 24 this year. We are dividing the budget deficit by the total operating hours.

  • Budgeted capital and operating cost: $144,243.
  • Budgeted revenue ( including a government grant of $4892): $17,292
  • Deficit borne by taxpayers of Oliver Paipoonge: $126,951.

Taxpayers will pay $470 per operating hour this year without the additional repairs.

Using either the Museum board letter or the Nov. 23, 2022 budget number, capital and operating cost would rise to $333,316 or $479,032 and the final deficit to $316,024 or $461,740. The 2023 approved budget shows “As of Dec. 31” paid admission of $230 for 2022.

It is paid admission that is the true gauge on public interest. The $230 for 2022 sends a pretty clear message. But since 2014 the total of all the admission or door fees is only $17,000. Actual paid admission is not mentioned by the mayor.

In that May 2 Rosslyn water news item, it says there is no solution yet so that makes the final cost a complete unknown. But that is a bill that must be paid. The residents need safe drinking water.

Rather than expecting more taxpayer money the museum board should undertake a massive fundraising campaign. If the people want the museum to survive they will donate.

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