County voters rejected the Champaign County Historical Society’s levy 9,471 votes to 7,437 votes on Tuesday.
The five-year, 0.3 mill operating levy was expected to generate $247,500 annually.
On Wednesday, historical society president Dan Walter said the levy was the society’s first attempt to seek public funding for their mission to protect the archives of Champaign County and to make the county’s story more available.
“Modernizing our presentation and opening it to the public throughout the week takes professional management and that, in turn, takes money,” Walter stated. “Obviously, we need to do a better job in getting this message across.”
Walter stated that while the levy is a new tax, he added people need to realize that by the time the society has implemented their planned renovation this will essentially be a new museum.
“Moreover, the 0.3 mill tax only amounts to $10.50 per year on a $100,000 property,” Walter stated. “As $102,000 is the median property value in Champaign County, half of property owners will pay even less. And of course those who do not own property will not pay anything. But everyone can enjoy free access to the museum day after day, week after week and month after month all year.”
Walter added among the obstacles the society faces include an aging volunteer force and revenue limited to membership fees and their one fund raiser Octoberfest. For the time being, he said they will remain open only on Mondays and Tuesdays.
“Now that we have learned levy mechanics, we intend to analyze the results and discuss when next to put it on the ballot,” Walter stated.