Waukesha County Board changes how it will give museum its funds

Published on: 2/4/2014

Waukesha County officials are still waiting for the results of the Waukesha County Museum's audit.

But the Waukesha County Board agreed with a recommendation from the Waukesha County Executive Committee on limiting how it disburses its funds to the museum.

After a 23-0 vote last week, the county will now give the museum its annual $150,000 in $12,500 monthly payments. The county board previously gave the county's taxpayer allocation to the museum in January (60 percent) and June (40 percent).

Limiting the disbursement of funds was brought forward by Supervisor Peter Wolff once Waukesha County Museum Chairman Tom Constable revealed that its annual audit is expected to show a significant deficit in the museum's financial bottom line.

It was also expected to show the museum failed to raise $100,000 to cover all of the expenses for the Les Paul exhibit (but it was recently announced that a donor has come forward to fund the exhibit's remaining expenses).

Change in direction

The museum's financial problems came after the county board approved giving the museum half of what it gave it in 2013.

"We were here 77 days ago to approve the budget for 2014," Wolff said. "Quickly after that we learned of some financial difficulties that were being faced by the museum and I believe this ordinance will limit our funding until administration can properly review their finances not just to the date of the audit but also analyze their plan moving forward to make sure the tax dollars we send there are spent appropriately and won't be wasted."

Wolff said he urged administration to work "diligently and quickly" to make sure that the review of the audit and business plan is done as quickly as possible so the county can monitor the situation and that the monthly payments are made appropriately.

Constable had previously said the audit, which is being conducted by the Waukesha-based certified public accounting firm Walkowicz, Boczkiewicz & Co., would be completed by the end of January.

Waiting for audit

As of Monday, Constable said the audit is still not complete.

"When the auditors believe they have everything done it will be released," Constable said. "As best as I know there won't be any surprises. We've kind of leaked out some of the information already."

Constable said he believed "the number-crunching" in the audit is all complete, but because the museum requested that the audit be expanded beyond the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2013, through the end of the year, it has taken longer.

Hoping to hold funding

While Wolff didn't want to cancel funding completely until the county reviews the audit, Waukesha County Board Supervisor Janel Brandtjen wanted to take it a step further.

Brandtjen wanted to withhold giving the museum any money until the Waukesha County Finance and Executive Committees have done a comprehensive financial review of its business plan and audit through the end of 2013 and can provide a report with supporting documentation on their findings and future viability.

"It holds the payments until we are sure the museum is financially feasible," Brandtjen said. "No. 2 it increases the number of county board supervisors from just being six to 12. It would be the Finance and Executive (Committee) that would go through the documents. That would be incredibly valuable. It directs the Executive Committee and Finance (Committee) to support it or not.

Not changing budget

However, Brandtjen's request was deemed out of order by Chairman Paul Decker because it would "change the budget."

But Wolff did say that if the museum is determined to be "no longer financially viable," he would bring an ordinance to modify the 2014 budget to change the funding for the museum.