The Haines Borough will resume management and maintenance of the Chilkat Center for the Arts.
Mayor Jan Hill said she's begun the process of taking over the management of the center from the Foundation for the Chilkat Center for the Arts, the nonprofit that's operated the building since 1996.
The move comes after a turbulent year when center users criticized high rental fees and raised governance issues with the private foundation's board of directors.
Hill said she hopes borough oversight of the center ends the controversy.
"I think this is a move in the right direction," she said. "People are concerned that rates are too high. They may be and they may not. People need to realize that if they're going to use the center, they're going to have to pay for it, but it also needs to be affordable."
Hill said she wants to reestablish an appointed Chilkat Center Board of Trustees to oversee management and maintenance of the building.
She said she'll model the organization after the Sheldon Museum and public library, which are governed by independent boards.
"I want to make sure we do it right. The format I have in mind is similar to the museum and the library. It seems to be working for them."
The foundation's staff of three, bookkeeper Joan Carlson, maintenance man Dave Menaker and development director Kim Lehner, are paid as independent contractors.
Hill said the borough likely will employee two part-time workers to operate and maintain the facility.
"I'm encouraging the current staff to come in and talk about their jobs and we'll see what we can come up with for staffing," she said. "They will certainly be encouraged to apply."
Hill said the center budget likely will be higher than the borough's annual $30,000 to $35,000 appropriation.
Part of the transition includes the borough picking up the tab for Chilkat Center maintenance projects conducted by the foundation since March. Carlson said the total should be about $2,000.
Foundation president Erich von Stauffenberg would not comment on what costs the borough should pay. He said the foundation will not dissolve after the borough takes back the center. "The foundation has nothing to do with the borough. It's in place to perpetuate and protect the Chilkat Center."
Hill said the foundation could serve an independent development or financial role.
"It could be similar to the Friends of the Library of the Chilkat Valley Historical Society," she said. "It could be a good thing. We should explore that."
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