Forsyth commissioners approve $30m children’s museum

At last night’s meeting the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved funding that would bring the cost of the Kaleideum children’s museum to $30 million:

The board’s approval makes changes to the 2016 Kaleideum Capital Projects Ordinance, when the project was estimated to cost $17.3 million. Originally, the $17.3 million was to be paid for through the sale of several county assets as well as money previously set aside for a building in Union Cross Business Park.

….To move the project forward, the county will issue limited-obligation bonds in the amount of $25 million and adjust other revenue line-items to reflect actual revenue received.

The county has about $5.5 million generated from a $1 million grant from the North Carolina Cultural Resources Museum, the sale of county-owned property at 537 North Spruce St., the sale of the Springwood Convalescent beds and interest earnings.

The project would likely raise the property-tax rate by 0.656 cents in fiscal year 2021, according to projections.

Who could be against a children’s museum?

During the public session, Keenen Altic of Winston-Salem said he was there to talk about “the obscene $30.5 million handout now for Kaleideum that is happening just as our teachers that we just heard from are going for an additional $40.2 million in their budget to create $15 an hour minimum wage for all staff as well as a number of other things. It really shows the priorities.”

He said that Kaleideum is not developing its own funds.

“We’re talking about spending on a children’s museum that doesn’t get much attendance at $10 admission, otherwise, they wouldn’t be needing to be asking for so much funds for a new building.”

After the meeting the Winston-Salem Journal interviewed executive director Elizabeth Dampier, ostensibly to counter the argument that Kaleidium won’t be able to stand alone financially. Somehow I don’t think the idea that “any Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school student who comes on a school trip visit gets in for free” is the counterargument Dampier wished to make. At least one should hope not.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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