Critics of the Missouri History Museum have failed in an initial attempt to cut the amount of taxpayer money that goes to the institution.
The publicly-appointed board that oversees the five institutions in the Zoo-Museum District voted today to keep the museum's rate at about four cents per every $100 in property value, which generates about $10 million from the city and county combined.
The effort to reduce that amount by about $1.5 million was the latest salvo in an ongoing battle over the museum's governance structure, a dispute over a failed land purchase, and the salary and benefits of former Museum president Bob Archibald.
Charles Valier, a persistent critic, said the amount was equal to what had been spent on Archibald in the last several years. Reducing the tax rate, he said, was the only way to hold the History Museum's board of trustees accountable.
"We will have failed our civic duty, and actions that other legislative bodies take may be far harsher than those envisioned by us," he said. Both the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce are conducting their own investigations.
Joining Valier in voting for a rate reduction were Gloria Wessels and Jerome Glick.
Ben Uchitelle, the chairman of the ZMD board, urged his colleagues to move on.
"The History Museum, as has been said repeatedly, has gone through its period of fire. Dr. Archibald is no longer with us," Uchitelle said, reminding board members that when the St. Louis Science Center came under fire for its level of executive compensation, it still received the full tax rate.
Here are the preliminary rates for the five institutions in the Zoo-Museum District. A final vote will take place in September or October.
- Saint Louis Art Museum - 7.86 cents per $100
- Saint Louis Zoo - 7.86 cents per $100
- Missouri History Museum - 3.91 cents per $100
- Saint Louis Science Center - 3.91 cents per $100
- Missouri Botanical Garden - 3.91 cents per $100
Wessels abstained from votes setting the rates for the four other institutions, saying the vote on the History Museum was "too upsetting."
Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann