Mayor Hammoud says move would fund the museum, help ensure its longevity
By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Mayor Abdullah Hammoud proposed making the Historical Commission a branch of the Library Commission during his March 16 mayoral council briefing, to fund the museum and ensure its longevity.
Hammoud said the Historical Commission is largely funded by an endowment fund, and years ago the city stopped using just the interest and began to use the principle, which he said is not enough to support it in the future.
“What we are doing is working with the Library Commission, we’re having strong conversations and they are expecting to bring forward a resolution in April to make the Historical Commission a branch of the library,” he said. “So, they would absorb the Historical Museum and the operations as an official branch of the overall library operations.”
Hammoud said the chief curator would, on paper at least, belong to the library, which has enough funding to absorb the museum.
“This guarantees they also mix strong synergies and have the historical archives, the kind of synergies of the library and everything they have there,” he said.
Hammoud said the library commissioners seem strongly supportive of the proposal.
“That’s how we ensure the longevity of the museum without ever having to worry about the actual funding for the operations,” he said.
Hammoud said the library can absorb the museum without it having any negative impact on the library operations.
He said that the timing is right, too, with interviews currently being held for the new library director.
Hammoud said that when Historical Museum Director Jack Tate eventually retires, the new chief curator would report to the library director, who reports to the Library Commission.
He said the museum’s budget would be a line item within the library’s budget.
City Attorney Jeremy Romer said they would submit a resolution to the Library Commission that would repeal the ordinances that currently govern the city’s museum and its Historical Commission to allow it to come under the library’s purview.
Councilmember Mustapha Hammoud asked about the provisions of state law under which the Historical Commission was, in part, established, and asked if a historical commission can be subordinate by law to a library commission.
Romer said the multi-member body provision allows the city to eliminate and create, and even though the Historical Commission was established pursuant to state law, that does not mean that it cannot be eliminated.
He said there can’t be competing boards, so the Historical Commission would be eliminated, since it can’t be reporting to the Library Commission.
Romer said the only significant power that would be lost with the elimination of the Historical Commission would be the ability to seek a bond.
Mayor Hammoud said the Library Commission would still have the ability to seek a bond.
The mayor added that the city could still have a volunteer commission that supports the museum. However, from a management perspective, the museum would be within the Library Commission purview.
Councilmember Robert Abraham asked that if the land at Michigan and Brady were ever sold would it benefit the Historical Museum as opposed to the library. He also was concerned that the land sale could impact the library’s operating bond.
The Library Commission meets at 5 p.m. April 12 at Henry Ford Centennial Library, and the City Council meets at 7 p.m. April 13 at the Dearborn Administrative Center for its mayoral briefing and committee of the whole.
Abraham noted that the library millage was passed to support the libraries, not the museum.
City Council President Michael Sareini said they need to make sure that the current library millage does not have restrictions that would prevent it from being used to support the Historical Museum.
Mayor Hammoud countered that some cities consider its historical archives as part of their libraries.
He said the city may be able to find some climate controlled spaces for the historical archives within the library buildings, which would also improve access to the documents.
Mayor Hammoud said that offering school programs in the museum and library buildings offer synergies as well.