FULTON — The Fulton City Council voted to again table discussion on the Martin House and its fund Monday at Fulton City Hall, and is considering a new investment option for the fund.

Discussion on the Martin House has been ongoing for months, and has been halted several times previously by the council. The Civil War-era home originally was donated to the city by Leonard and Maxine Martin, and serves as a museum for the Fulton Historical Society. The Martins’ will also left a monetary gift to the city.

The historical society cared for the Martin House for seven years before the City Council voted in 2007 to take over maintenance of the home.

While managing the care for the house, the historical society used interest off the Martin fund to cover utilities and upkeep, and sought approval from the City Council for additional expenses. The council voted earlier this year to put the house back into the society’s hands, but again tabled discussion after having problems with language of the new agreement between the council and historical society.

Monday, the City Council considered investing the fund in stocks and bonds through the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, rather than through a certificate of deposit.

Susan Skora, president and CEO of the foundation, told council members that the interest rate of the investment would pay out more than the conservative CD investment’s rate.

“It is only through using stocks and bonds that we are able to have a chance to keep up with inflation,” said Skora. “As we all know, inflation is something that eats away at the purchasing power of every dollar, and that should be a concern because if we don’t stay up with inflation, eventually the budget of the museum will outstrip the earnings...So this is really a way for the city to place these funds into a Martin fund at the community foundation and to have an investment portfolio that generates a consistent rate of return.”

When the Martins left their home to the city in 1999, they also left approximately $250,000 to the city. Since the city's investment of the money in CD's, that amount has grown to $278,000.

Council members and historical society members were in agreement that the investment through the community foundation would give the historical society a better chance of meeting their funding needs, and would also be a benefit to the city.

The Fulton Association for Community Enrichment is an affiliate of the community foundation, and would receive part of the revenue paid to the foundation for its services.

Before discussion on the new investment plan, there had been contention over whether the interest rate, used by the historical society to pay upkeep on the house, would be enough to cover the maintenance costs of the house. The City Council suggested that the historical society would have to make up the difference if the interest from the fund is not enough to cover maintenance costs on the house.

“The historical society really needs to know how much money we will have coming in, in order to pay the bills,” said Neal Luker, who spoke on behalf of the historical society to the City Council.

A committee made up of two council members and two historical society members decided that the agreement for the society to take over care for the home will be for a duration of five years, and also established that the interest proceeds from the Martin fund will go solely to upkeep on the Martin House. Further, the agreement states that if the City Council and historical society eventually terminate the agreement, the historical society will have six months to move out of the house.

Voting on the agreement was tabled Monday because of wording still being worked out in the document. Also, the possibility of changing the way the Martin fund is invested will require the language in the agreement to be changed. City officials declined to disclose the document in its entirety to the media because the agreement is not completed.

The City Council plans to vote on the matters at its Oct. 19 meeting. Some of the council members will not be present at the Oct. 5 meeting, and the council also wanted to allow sufficient time for the new plan to be worked out.

This Week's Circulars