What the hell is really going on between Union Station and the Kansas City Museum? 

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The Pitch filed an open-records request with the city, to obtain actual mill-levy expenditures. Kansas City produced occasional budgets and income statements from its general services department but included no itemized expenditures.

One document shows mill-levy expenses shared between Union Station and the Kansas City Museum. These include human-­resources costs, information technology, and marketing, as well as 10 percent of Guastello's annual salary. His base salary in 2011 was $215,903, but that year he received $292,475, counting bonuses, deferred compensation and benefits.

An exact accounting of how Union Station spends the mill-levy money remains unclear in the public record, pending the city's audit. Marcason says the audit's delay is due to ongoing negotiations on a new museum-management contract between the city and Union Station.

"We don't want it to be adversarial," Marcason says. "We want to look to the future. I know some of the neighbors are suspicious. If there was anything uncovered, we would look at what the issues were, we would have looked at that. The neighbors should be excited that the city is looking for Corinthian Hall to be a sustainable community asset."

But without an audit, how can anyone know how the money is being spent?

"From a good-stewardship standpoint, it makes sense to do regular audits," says Adam Schieber, a Northeast Kansas City resident who chairs the KCMAB's audit committee.


Since 2007, the Kansas City Museum had enjoyed about $10,000 in annual support from the Francis Family Foundation. Named for Parker B. Francis, who founded the Puritan-Bennett Co., the foundation is carried on today by his children.

In 2011, the foundation ended its support of the Kansas City Museum. One reason given was the national recession pinching the foundation's balance sheet. But the foundation did not look warmly upon Union Station's regard for the needs of the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall.

In a letter to Leitch dated November 29, 2011, Francis Family Foundation executive director Jim Koeneman writes: "[N]egative comments included Union Station Board of Directors' lack of attention to the needs of Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall, especially advocacy on your behalf with the city regarding timing and completion of renovations."

Corinthian Hall needs $20 million to finish renovations that started in 2008. The initial work cost $10 million and was funded by the city, mostly through its Public Improvement Advisory Committee.

Other supporters, the kind with artifacts to donate to the museum's collection, have shied away from the Kansas City Museum because they're unsure who will end up using their donations and how they will be presented.

On June 10, the KCMAB Collections Committee discussed instances in which donors were reluctant to give to the museum because of confusion over ownership. Examples included photographs that depicted Kansas City in 1870; that collection was sent to the Jackson County Historical Society "rather than having it will into the hands of USKC [Union Station] and possibly be separated from Kansas City Museum in the future," according to minutes of that meeting.

Those same minutes describe how the Kansas City Police Historical Society was told its members could donate only to Union Station and that they would have no control over their artifacts and would not be able to display them at police facilities in the future.

Union Station's relationship with the Kansas City Museum has also complicated the institution's accreditation. The museum used to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction that helps with fundraising and grant proposals. The AAM rescinded that accreditation in 2007, citing Union Station's record of financial instability and the spending down of a $40 million endowment to support operations.

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