The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 8, 2014

Endowment Fund distributing $11,700 to Fulton Historical Society

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — FULTON, Ill. — For the first time, the city of Fulton will accept the spendable balance portion of the Martin House Museum Endowment Fund for $11,700 to be distributed to the Fulton Historical Society.

At a City Council meeting Monday, Fulton city officials approved the distribution of funds with the stipulation the money would be used for maintenance costs, capital improvement projects and operational expenses of the Martin House.

The push to approve the $11,700 distribution comes after the Great River Bend Community Foundation made changes to its policy, no longer allowing organizations to build up the spendable portion of an endowment fund.

Without the approval on Monday, that $11,700 would have rolled back into the principal amount and would have become inaccessible to the city.

“This allows us greater flexibility to use those funds,” City Administrator Ed Cannon said. “We can better manage those funds as well because now we have those funds available, so if we have a capital improvement, a big-ticket item that needs to be done, we can start budgeting for that.”

In addition to the approval of the spendable balance distribution, the city also approved an automatic distribution that will allow it to receive that spendable portion in the second quarter of each year without inquiring for it in the future.

The endowment with the GRBCF was established in 2009 and because the city of Fulton has never taken any of the interest that it has built, and because of considerable market gains, the fund was able to grow from $250,000 to $308,000.

However, because internal operation budgets for the Martin House and Fulton Historical Society are nearly depleted, the city must now rely on the endowment to fund the costs and expenses of the Martin House.

“We will need it all just for the maintenance,” First Ward Alderwoman and historical society representative Barb Mask said. “Our fixed expenses run from $7,000 to $8,000 a year without doing any repair to the house, just paying utilities and the operational expenses is that much.”

Although the council voted unanimously in favor of accepting the distribution, Fourth Ward Alderman Randy Boonstra showed concern that the endowment will no longer build a sustainable interest amount.

“I think we should look at this and see what the budget is going to be,” Boonstra said. “I understand that you need it all, but my concern is that when you get this, it’s going to be all spent rather than putting some of it away, and because the fund won’t be growing any more, when we do the big project or some major repair we won’t have any money to do that with.”

In order to maintain the budget of the Martin House, as well as the principal of the endowment, the council and Mask agreed the city would closely monitor the maintenance and capital improvement budget of the Martin House to ensure fiscal responsibility with the spendable balance funds.

“I think the society is going have to take a deep look at it and say ‘just because we have $11,700, doesn’t mean we get to spend $11,700,’” Boonstra said.