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    History museum audit reveals no problems

    Cleared of financial mismanagement, the Safety Harbor museum now might receive a $40,000 grant.

    By LEON M. TUCKER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 24, 2002


    SAFETY HARBOR -- A financial audit of the Safety Harbor Museum of Regional History shows no problems with the way the organization has handled money in the past year.

    The report could make way for the City Commission to give the museum a $40,000 grant it has asked for in the summer, said Mayor Pam Corbino.

    "I imagine at our next meeting there will be a resolution to transfer those funds to the museum," said Corbino, who said that the recent hiring of two museum employees also was a step in the right direction for the museum. "The community is in a very enthusiastic mood about these people."

    The museum was in turmoil during the summer when its former director said the museum was in financial trouble and needed the city's help. The museum board's president was dismissed, several board members resigned and the director also resigned.

    This prompted the museum to ask the city for $40,000 -- 40 percent of its operating budget -- to keep the museum's doors open. The request was put on hold pending the audit.

    "It looks like a good, clean audit," said Mark Hildebrand, president of the museum board. "I'm optimistic that the city is going to move forward in a positive direction."

    Although Corbino said she was satisfied with the results of the audit, she said the inquiry only touched the surface of the museum's financial health.

    "I don't think it goes as deep as it could have," she said. "The museum has (investments) that we don't know about, and those are the things the board needs to address after this cursory audit."

    Hildebrand said the audit wasn't intended to look at those investments. He said that although stocks and certificates of deposit have been donated to the museum through the years, he doesn't see that there are problems.

    "I don't believe that is something the audit goes into," he said. "We sure could use someone with good investment advice, but the auditor was not hired to look into and give investment advice -- and there certainly were no improprieties with the CDs."

    -- Leon M. Tucker can be reached at 445-4167 or tucker@sptimes.com .

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