Port McNeill council received a letter from the society that operates the Port McNeill Heritage Museum (PMHM), once again requesting for the town to take over its bookkeeping.
Back in April of 2017, the Town of Port McNeill declined the museum’s request to take over its bookkeeping, with Port McNeill Mayor Shirley Ackland stating the town, “can’t take over the bookkeeping because of the costs.”
The letter from the PMHM Secretary Lois Williams stated that “At the AGM Museum Meeting dated Dec. 20, 2017 it was requested once again that the Town of Port McNeill take on the responsibilities of bookkeeping for the museum, which would save us in excess of $700 annually.”
Williams stated the museum also requested “to have the assistance of a stream certified hoe and operator to selectively clear foliage adjacent to the museum as part of a museum visibility enhancement and educational project that DFO Community Advisor Stacey Larsen is assisting us with.”
According to the letter, the foliage work should be completed within a day, and “The Museum Society has approached Stacey Larsen with a request to meet with her soon to discuss some of the details of the project. Julian from Public Works should ideally be present and we would appreciate it if he can accommodate this meeting within his schedule once we have the date set.”
“I’d like to ask if this is something the town is able to do with the amount of time that they have – because I personally won’t be doing the bookkeeping,” laughed Coun. Jay Dixon.
“This is a big ask,” added Coun. Shelley Downey. “I’m unclear whether they want us to hire that out and get the work done, or if they want our public works to give oversight to the project. It’s unclear to me what the ask is, and the other part of that is the request to do the bookkeeping — I’m wondering about that, because this is supposed to be a standalone organization, we grant them operating money, but now it sounds like they want us to look after their finances on top of that.”
Dixon wondered if the PMHM is actually a society.
“They are a society,” said Coun. Graham MacDonald.
“Is there evidence they’re a society?” replied Dixon.
Ackland jumped into the conversation at that point, stating, “we’ve got the letter here but not a person from the museum present, and there’s some things we need to ask — with regards to the bookkeeping, we don’t know what that’s going to entail. That’s a big request and I don’t know whether it’s possible under the Societies Act for us to do that.”
MacDonald pointed out that when it comes to the accounting, “we give them money, they take that money and take it to an accountant,” adding, “they’re looking at ways to save money.”
“Societies still have to have an external accountant, I don’t know if Dan (Port McNeill Treasurer) would be allowed to,” replied Coun. Aaron Frost.
“I’d like direction from council to staff to look into what the requirements are – we don’t know if we’re in a position to help them if they are intent on retaining their society status,” added Ackland.
“I read in to this as, do they wish for the town to take oversight of the museum, and if they are comfortable with that, then that’s something we need to discuss as well,” noted Dixon.
Council agreed to have staff meet with the society that runs PMHM to iron out the details regarding what they are exactly asking for with their recent requests.