Centerville historical group seeks help with funding

Centerville-Washington Twp. History says it has seen successes despite financial challenges.

Centerville-Washington History gets about about half the money it did a decade ago from the city and township, and without additional funding, the group’s long-term outlook is threatened.

Executive Director Vickie Bondi said the group could face hardships in the next 10 years without more assistance from the community.

The society — in operation since 1966 — preserves, documents and records the history of Centerville and Washington Twp. It has three historical museums: Asahel Wright Museum, Aaron Nutt Resource Center and the Walton House museum—two of which they own.

The group receives funding from both Centerville and Washington Twp., but the amount has decreased as the city and township dealt with the loss of the estate tax and faced decreased state reveunue.

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The Ohio estate tax law was repealed in 2013, and that kept entities from getting taxes from large estates when people died. The reduction in their revenue caused both localities to make cuts to some of their programs— the society’s included.

Washington Twp. and Centerville accounted for nearly $70,000 each of the society’s annual revenue in 2007. Now, the city provides about $34,000 to the society, while the township offers $40,000 in support.

Representatives from the historical society say that they have asked Centerville for more assistance, to the tune of a $14,000 annual increase.

Centerville Finance Director Jonathan Hudson said council members haven’t made a determination as to whether they’ll be able to help the society.

The society operated with a $138,700 budget in 2016, but revenue was only $119,712, according to the society.

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Bondi said the society has had to go into its endowment the past few years to make up the difference.

“Our endowment fund isn’t that big—before you know it, you’re down to zero,” she said.

The reduction in funding caused the society to close the gift shop, cut staff and staff hours, trim payroll and reduce maintenance services.

Despite their financial problems, Bondi said the organization is seeing success.

Bondi says Centerville-Washington History participates in community outreach programs through the Americana festival, Summer Concert Series, Veterans Exhibit, Baby Boomers Festival and other similar programs.

Bondi says Centerville-Washington History will look to to continue expanding their services to the community.

Bondi said they’re grateful for what both entities have been able to do for them, considering their cuts, but also notes the financial future of the society could use some help.

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