Clark County Historical Society asking for support of levy to help fund Heritage Center

The Clark County Historical Society will be placing a five-year, 0.3-mill levy on the November ballot to continue the upkeep on the giant Heritage Center building. Bill Lackey/Staff

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The Clark County Historical Society will be placing a five-year, 0.3-mill levy on the November ballot to continue the upkeep on the giant Heritage Center building. Bill Lackey/Staff

Clark County voters will be asked to continue supporting a levy that pays for the continual maintenance and other operational expenses associated with a building in downtown Springfield that has been in the community for more than 100 years.

The Clark County Historical Society has placed the 0.3-mill, five-year renewal levy on the ballot for May’s election. If approved, the measure will continue to generate more than $700,000 annually, totally $3.5 million during the entire five year period.

The levy that was first passed in 2017 costs the owner of $100,000 home about $9.70 per year. Money generated from it will primarily go toward the maintenance and some improvements to the building that houses the Heritage Center at 117 S. Fountain Ave.

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The building is a local landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic sites. The large stone-and-brick building that features a clock tower was built in 1890. It originally hosted city offices, including the police department and once contained a market that offered a variety of goods.

The historical society takes care of the building and also runs the heritage center there, which has been located at South Fountain since 2001. Additional building space is also rented out to several other tenants.

The historical building needs several repairs, said Roger Sherrock, the executive director of the Clark County Historical Society.

Sidewalks around the building are shifting, and some vestibules of the building are also settling into the ground, for example. The historical society is also eyeing maintenance for the building’s towers.

Much work has already been done to maintain the building through the original levy, passed in 2017, Sherrock said. Money generated for the museum went toward work on the building’s gutters and HVAC system and other building maintenance.

If the renewal levy passes, more than 80 percent of the money would cover maintenance costs for the 132 year-old building.

The property tax issue was originally proposed and placed on the ballot in 2017 due to the historical society not being able to keep with routine maintenance of the building with their existing funds at the time.

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“We can maintain the building ourselves. We don’t want to go back to the county and ask for funds for this or that,” Sherrock said regarding the reason behind the levy as it provides the funding needed to keep up with the aging building.

The Clark County Historical Society has an annual budget of about $1 million, and the majority of that money is coming from the levy in order to keep up with needed maintenance and improvements related to the historic building.

Other revenue for the historical society comes from an endowment that generates about $200,000 of general income annually. That money goes towards staffing and running the museum at the Heritage Center, which is free to the public.

Reporter Sydney Dawes contributed to this story

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