Auditors want value established for county museum collections

Mar 27, 2013 By Christina George, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Museums Board has inquired about a request from county officials to have museum collections "accessioned" to determine total value.

Board treasurer Butch Tonkin asked Fremont County Commission liaison Stephanie Kessler if she could get clarification from the county board about the museums needing to have their entire collections valued.

Only 40 to 50 percent of museum assets are valued. There was concern raised about two ways to establish value, either at the time of donation or by hiring someone to appraise the items, which could run as much as $200 per item.

"We can't afford that," Tonkin said during the board's March meeting at the Riverton Museum.

Chairman Tom Duncan said the state museum system uses a process that applies a nominal amount for most items and treats a few items separately.

Board member Jon Lane said a museum in Green River doesn't capitalize pieces except for major pieces.

"What are we trying to get at is the question," Lane said.

He encouraged the need for clarification and what model should be used.

Duncan said the board also needs details about what is being insured.

Kessler said she inquired about the accession request and was told it came about from auditors.

"If the intent is for insurance purposes, premiums will have to be addressed in the budget," Lane pointed out.

"That's our other problem," Tonkin added, referring to a shortage of funds.

Other board news

- Tonkin told the group the museums system's spending for the current fiscal year is at 75 percent.

- Museum of the American West board member Scott Estep said MAW hopes to work with the Fremont County Pioneer Museum and do hospitality tours of the facilities with local hotel staff so that they can tell guests about what is available.

- Three executive sessions were held during the meeting. The first private session was called five minutes into the meeting and lasted for a little more than an hour.

In the regular session Duncan said the closed-door meeting was because of "a number of legal issues that the board needed to discuss with attorney (Jodi) Darrough from the County Attorney's Office."

The second executive was called about 40 minutes later and involved real estate. Dubois is in the process of planning for a new facility.

The meeting reopened about a half an hour later. After the third session, which was in regard to personnel, the board agreed to reopen its search for a director at the Fremont County Pioneer Museum.

- Board member Carol Chidsey thanked Kessler for becoming an "active liaison." Others around the tabled concurred, noting it that it was just the third time since November 2011 that a commission liaison has attended a museums board meeting.

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