Fair board appeals to commissioners

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

At Tuesday's meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners, members of the Putnam County 4-H Fair Board asked for money to be put back into the county budget for the annual 4-H fair.

"There are over 1,000 kids involved in 4-H and it is an important event for the county," Fair Board member Gene Grable told the commissioners.

The county council and commissioners had to make budget cuts three years ago that eliminated not only 4-H from the county budget, but also groups such as the senior center and the humane society. Up until that time they received between $35,000 and $40,000 per year.

The county fairground is used for numerous events besides the fair.

"It's used for election day, Tox-Away Day, horse shows, weddings and lots of events," said Jackie Baumann, food and nutrition educator for the extension office.

Currently the board has to borrow money to carry them through the year.

The group talked about some of the expenses including insurance, utilities, judges and ribbons.

"We've cut everywhere we can find," Grable said. "We used to pay judges $8,000 or $9,000. We only paid $4,500 last year. People don't realize how expensive judges can be."

The board also cut the expense for ribbons from $9,000 to about $5,000.

Other expenses included $18,000 for insurance and $23,500 for utilities and $7,100 for premiums to 4-Hers.

"It looks like we'll have to discontinue premiums for the next year. We just don't have the money," said Grable.

The group was able to get a sponsor for the premiums two years ago, but that was only a one-year deal.

A number of ideas were tossed around to raise revenues, including camping for the Covered Bridge Festival in October and other events allowing motor homes and campers on the grounds.

The fairground's electric and septic systems are not strong enough to support any heavy overnight traffic and costs to upgrade the systems would be over $30,000.

"We've also asked the Visitor and Convention Center to help us recruit events that could be held at the fairgrounds. We're looking for anything that can help us," said Grable.

Commissioner Gene Beck told the group the county council was in charge of taking away the 4-H funding and that they would have to go before the council to ask for additional funds.

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  • Sounds like there needs to be more cuts. Suck it in like everyone else is doing and budget better.

    -- Posted by peace2019 on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 6:50 PM
  • The fact the fair and fairgrounds bring in visitors every year why doesn't the visitor and convention center provide some money? Sounds like this would be the perfect fit and is one of reasons for the hotel room tax.

    -- Posted by NeverChanges on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 5:35 AM
  • I have learned that none of the individual permanent barns pay anything to be on the fairgrounds, but yet they can hold huge fundrasiers and have a large bank accounts. They don't pay for anything when big events are held. They are there for FREE. They pay NOTHING for being on the fairgrounds. They do not contribute for electricity, water, trash, mowing, security (during the fair), NOTHING. But yet they are allowed to earn tons of money. Could a rent/maintenance fee be required of these barns/clubs? They are a part of the fairgrounds, but yet they hold their own accounts and contribute nothing. Where else can you run a program, make money, and pay your land lord nothnig for rent or utilities? In the community building they now charge 4-H clubs over $100 to hold meetings there. HELLO. Seems like they are going after the little clubs and charging rent and they make no revenue. But yet they allow big clubs to earn money and charge them nothing. Can I build a nice building there to rent out for weddings, parties, meetings and not have to contribute a dime? If so, let me know where to sign up.

    -- Posted by theworldwelivein on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 6:30 AM
  • Everybody is sucking it up right now. The fair board should be doing the same. They are doing in the county what big businesses that are not profitable are doing nationally. Our local county government must remain solvent --- not like the U.S. government that can go into debt by the trillions! Quit thinking that government (local or nationally) is the answer to all our problems.

    -- Posted by not gullible on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 9:12 AM
  • Smaller Gov Now - Volunteer Judges? Not going to happen. Those people travel far distances sometimes, and have to be compensated somehow. And don't say that they need to find local judges, because there aren't as many qualified around here as you would think.

    -- Posted by MsBehaving on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 9:13 AM
  • The Barns on the fairgrounds are owned by the fairgrounds, not the clubs. The fairground does not charge the clubs $100 per event, they are charged a yearly deposit. This deposit is returned to them at the end of the year, if nothing is damaged. The little clubs are free to have their own fund raisers just like the big clubs. The Fairboard does not take their money.

    The money taken in at the fair is not enough to pay the bills of the fairgrounds for a year. It is not all profit, they do have to pay for all of the events, entertainment, utilities, etc. on the grounds at the fair.

    The Board tries to support 4-H and all 4-H events. The fairgorunds is not owned by the city, the county or any individual, it is a stand alone entity. When they charge people for events they did not have to pay for in the past, people forget they used to get money from the county, which they no longer receive. So in order to support the fairgrounds organizations, other than 4-H clubs, they need to pay for the use of the grounds. The Board has been "SUCKING IT UP" for some time that is why they are now charging for other organization's events. They could cut more and the county would not have a fairgrounds.

    -- Posted by Fairground on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 10:58 AM
  • For a start I think it might be a good idea if the fair board turned off the big security lights that are on year round to help cut the electric bills. They are on regardless if there is any type of event going on or not. Is it really necessary for all the security lights? It looks like a small town over there.

    -- Posted by flylow on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 8:52 PM
  • The major issue here is not necessarily funding the fairgrounds (which is important to the county) but using taxpayer money to fund non tax related organizations. There are several organizations I would like to see get funding - Humane Shelter, Away Home Shelter, 4H, Senior Center, to name a few. But where does it end? Once you pick one to give money to, they all feel they have the right to taxpayer money. And let's face it, once they get back on the taxpayers money, they will be like Oliver Twist and come back each year with their hand out asking - Can we have more please? Unfortunately when times are good, politicians want to gain favor with voters so they give money away, and also unfortunately when times get bad, they have to take it away. A few years ago, they were all treated equally and dropped from the government handout rolls, it is harsh but we should keep them off. Also, no one group should be singled out for money, as has happened. And aren't these the same commissioners that are looking for money to buy salt for the roads? Seems like if you save in one area, there might be other money left to move to another area. Unfortunately, in this economy the commissioners can't have their cake and eat it too.

    -- Posted by hoosierpete on Fri, Jan 23, 2009, at 11:26 AM
  • To theworldwelivein just for your info the barns have those fundraisers to make money to upkeep the barn and get the things they need because the fair board dosent have the money to do the upkeep. I had been evolved with the 4h program and fair board for over 28 years and proud of our 4h program. Till last year for many reasons. Not sure where they spent the 8 to 9 thousand dollars for judges because the barns were forced to pay for there judges out of there own money last year which is fine but where did the money go.Also you think there are problems now go ahead and bring unqualified volunteer judges in and there will be really big problems.As for the security lights they are there for a reason to keep the vandals out.

    -- Posted by Sorry to all on Fri, Jan 23, 2009, at 7:49 PM
  • Those so-called visitors are basically not from out of State!! They're mostly families right here in good old Putnam County.

    -- Posted by whodouthinkur on Tue, Jan 27, 2009, at 8:38 AM
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