COLUMBIA — Efforts to secure state funding for a new building to house the State Historical Society of Missouri have hit a wall.
The Historical Society’s funding request was absent from the state legislature's distribution of federal stimulus money, Executive Director Gary Kremer said.
“There’s no money,” he said. “It appears to me that it’s dead for this session.”
The Historical Society, housed in Ellis Library at MU, originally wanted $62 million, based on estimates of space needs by the office of administration. During the previous legislative session, Kremer said, the society received some planning money and hired a consultant to determine a better estimate of size and cost of the new building.
“We went through a more formal planning process and decided on a smaller building at a much reduced cost,” Kremer said.
It was determined that the building would cost closer to $45 million, and the Historical Society requested about $30 million in stimulus money. However, the request was not granted by the state legislature.
“Obviously, we were hoping to get $45 million," Kremer said. "At one time, we thought we were going to get $45 million, then $30 million.”
Budgeting for the Historical Society was included in House Bill 19. It passed out of the House Budget Committee but never made it to the House floor, Kremer said.
“The budget chair and speaker decided to go in a different direction,” Kremer said, referring to the federal stimulus money designated for tax rebates.
Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman said he was disappointed the Historical Society will not be receiving stimulus money for the building.
“The opportunity that they might get stimulus money seemed like a wonderful opportunity for the city of Columbia for economic development and improving the city,” he said. “I was very much in favor.”
Hindman said that though the city had helped negotiate with the university to find a site for the new building, the city cannot offer much help with building funds.
“We have to do what we can to cooperate with them, but we’re in no position to provide them money,” he said. “I don’t know what their next step will be. That’s their call.”
Based on the latest agreement with the city and university, Kremer said, the new building was to be located along Elm Street between Sixth and Seventh streets. As of now, however, those plans will be put on hold.
“I really don’t know,” Kremer said when asked what’s next. “We have to reconsider. Right now, we don’t have any options. There’s no money, so I’m not sure what.”
He said the society's board of trustees will be looking over the money and options, but budget cuts and funding problems go beyond a lack of money for the new building.
“The reality is there are far more building needs in the state than there are building funds,” Kremer said. “There just isn’t enough money right now. We’re in a deep recession. The problem isn’t just our facility.”
Hindman said he hopes the state might provide funding in the future, but “I find it hard to predict what the legislature might do.”
“As far as I can tell, we’re back to square one,” he said.