A Brief History of Museum Tax Levy

Preserving Crook County History into the Future

When the Bowman family gave the building to the people of Crook County in 1971 CCHS entered into an agreement with the County to run the museum. Funds were tight, the County helped with utilities and CCHS raised money where it could. The museum was totally volunteer run and open only the summer months. Even still by 1976 things looked bleak for continuing.

Someone on the board at the time came up with the idea to take advantage of a little known Oregon statute that allows Counties to create a Historical Fund by the vote of the people. The first fund amount was $10,000 per year. CCHS continued to raise additional funds to fully fund operations. They hired their first part-time staff and increased open times to ten months a year. By 1988 they were back in dire straights as they needed some major building maintenance and the cost of operations had continued to rise. They were able to increase the Historical Fund from $10,000 to $41,500 annually. With this amount they were able to do some needed renovations and hire their first full-time Executive Director. Again CCHS raised money (memberships, gift shop sales, grants and donations) to supplement operations.

Measure 47/50 allowed municipalities to do “Local Option Levies” for anything that had previously been allowed by the old statutes. These local option levies had a five year maximum duration. Because we were receiving a 10% decrease at a time that we really needed increase in our Historical Fund the CCHS board and the County Commissioners decided to ask the voters for an additional local option tax for funds for the museum. We decided to do one with a four year duration to match the general election schedule. Voters had approved the museum operating levy through several cycles until this past November election when it failed. It is hoped that we can get voter approval to continue the levy in the upcoming May election. Please consider voting for the levy so we can continue our valuable services to the people of Crook County.. Without levy funds severe cutbacks will be necessary.

Vote YES! on the May Ballot

Crook County residents are undoubtedly aware that the new local option tax levy did not pass in November. The museum will be on the ballot again in May so we are asking everyone to help spread the word and show support. On the May Ballot the museum will be asking for a five-year local option levy with a continuance of the current level of funding that has been approved for the last 25 years.

What you can do to help

Please contact anyone at the museum if you would like a lawn sign, or if you would consider speaking before a group. Please feel free, especially, to post a positive message on social media or submit a letter to the editor of the Central Oregonian or any similar publication. We need positive and enthusiastic contributors to wax eloquently about our purpose and mission. The current tax levy funding will expire on June 30.