Summerville-Dorchester Museum receives past hospitality tax funds; still facing financial woes

Dorchester County News

A local museum that has been facing financial difficulties and is in danger of closing was recently granted over $40,000 by the Town of Summerville.

The museum was awarded $22,250 and $20,000 for its 2018 and 2017, respectively, hospitality tax fund grant applications by town council on May 9. The tax is collected by the town and can be used for specific projects for tourism-related initiatives.

The funds were not approved for the previous year’s applications because the museum had not spent its 2016 hospitality tax funding and because its applications were misplaced.

“The museum was able to find their form for the 2017 fund so council voted to give them the money for that year,” said Mary Edwards, the public information officer for the Town of Summerville.

Since early 2019, The Summerville-Dorchester Museum has been operating on a month-to-month basis after it ran out of reserve funds.

Museum leaders say they are very appreciative of the funding, but they are still facing financial issues because hospitality tax funding has to be used for specific projects and cannot be used for general operating expenses.

“We continue to be in a month-to-month search for operations funds,” said museum historian Ed West. “Since this has come to light our donations have increased, our visitors have increased, our memberships have increased, so we’re doing better with it, and we’re very appreciative of the people that have come and joined us in what we’re doing.”

West said the hospitality tax funds will be used for renovations and exhibits

The museum has a yearly operating budget of about $25,000. Since January 2019, it has received almost $12,000 in donations.

The museum currently has enough funding to stay open until late-June or July. West said the museum is actively trying to find a business to sponsor the museum, so they have a consistent source of funding.

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