Board looks at what's fair for funding

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

With no county tax dollars to depend on, the Putnam County Fair Board must now figure out how to best pay for its operations, and that may mean chosing paying events rather than hosting free county meetings as in the past.

In examining its 2007 budget on Monday, the Fair Board saw that while receipts are estimated at $375,500 for the year, the operating expenses are figured at $392,050 for a deficit of $16,550.

Board members agreed that some cuts will have to be made, and some additional income will have to be raised through additional promotions and projects.

Board president Ken Heeke asked members to look over the budget and come up with ideas on how to increase revenue while cutting costs. Heeke said it has come to the point where allowing county government-sponsored events to use the community building at no charge may have to end in favor of paying events.

"We no longer receive county money," Heeke said, "and we have to be very careful."

In the past with the county funding, Heeke said, it was fair to allow the county to use the building at no fee. That is no longer the case, however.

The county council and commissioners had to make budget cuts two years ago that eliminated not only 4-H from the county budget, but also groups such as the senior center and the humane society.

The fair board is experiencing that same financial crunch, especially since it recently purchased adjoining property to expand its territory.

"The county came to this point two years ago," Extension Educator Jackie Baumann said of the tight funds, "and now here we are."

Last year, the fairgrounds had 266 events booked on the property. Of those 136 events were for 4-H. Another 90 were banuets and events that paid a total of $16,133. An additional 40 bookings were for events such as a county land use planning meeting, extension homemaker yard sales and craft sales, master gardener classes and meetings.

Board member Rick Judy noted that while those are all good events, it costs money to open the community building for them. It may come to the point where all groups using the building must pay a fee, he said, pointing out that the Bainbridge Community Building charges a fee no matter what group uses the building.

Outside of the annual county fair, the main money-makers for the fairgounds are rental of the community building, storage during the winter months, and rental of other barns for events.

Looking at overhead, its costs $4,974 per month for facility operations, the board saw, and that averages to $165.80 per day. For the month of February, the community building was booked 23 times, but only three events were charged rental, bringing in $400. In January, the building had 11 bookings, but only two of those were paid rentals.

The board took no action to change its facility use policy, but members were asked to consider charging at least the operational costs of the facility.

Meanwhile, the board also considered and accepted a new policy on animal health requirements. The rules state that a certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate) is not required for Indiana livestock exhibited at the fair. All out-of-state animals exhibited at the fair must be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection written by a licensed, accredited veterinarian within 30 days of the exhibition.

Also, the livestock superintendent will visually inspect animals presented for exhibition. Animals showing symptoms of any infectious or communicable disease or that are otherwise a health hazard to person or animals are not eligible for exhibition and will not be allowed on the fairgrounds. An animal that develops or shows signs of any infectious or communicable disease during the exhibition must be removed from the premise including the surrounding exhibition grounds.

The policy also states that an owner that is disputing the exclusion of their animal from the exhibition may not exhibit the animal in question pending any appeal.

The fair board noted many of the barn superintendents already followed those rules, but the policy was not in writing. Veterinarian and board member John Scamahorn presented the policy for board consideration.

In other business, the board:

  • Learned six 4-H'ers have signed up for bucket calf in the Dairy Barn. The feeder steer weigh-in is scheduled for April.

  • Was told Melissa Archer has been hired as a part-time assistant in the Extension Office.

  • Heard no scramble members had signed up for the Goat Barn at the county fair.

  • Learned the Rabbit Club will begin meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 7 at the fairgrounds community building.

  • Learned that updates to the 2007 fair book are due by March 1 to Shirley Ruark, who has agreed to organize the information for the book this year.

  • Noted that an auction committee meeting with all barn superintendents is set for 7 p.m. Monday, March 5 at the community building. There will not be a change to a sale of champions only, contrary to rumor. The committee will discuss how to make the auction run smoother.

  • Tabled a revision on the rental policy concerning alcoholic beverages.

    The Fair Board meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Building.

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