A Letter to the Editor in the Nov. 8, 2011, Tomahawk Leader:
On Oct. 20, 2011, the County’s Public Property Committee met. The agenda contained items specifically regarding the use of the Fairgrounds. One item was an introduction of a resolution to establish a Volunteer Fairground User Group Management Organization, and another addressed a policy for implementing lease agreements with various options.
Over the past couple of years, I have been asking this very committee why at least half of Fairground maintenance costs consistently fall back on to the tax levy when literally hundreds of thousands of dollars are generated by non-profits and other entities using the facility. In the process of asking this same question repeatedly, I also discovered that some user groups pay no lease fees for use of the grounds in spite of raising a great deal of money on site.
In an apparent response to that question and discovery, the County Clerk presented the Property Committee with a new lease agreement with multiple options for charging for use of the Fairgrounds. Both the current and proposed options provide no exemptions from these fees without prior Public Property Committee approval. In spite of certain supervisor claims to the contrary, there are no written records of exemptions to these fees.
The proposed new lease agreement for the Fairgrounds offered multiple fee arrangements, including not charging anything for use of the facility. Since the committee just received these options, no action was taken on which, if any, provisions would be adopted. That fact did not stop a certain supervisor from making a motion to exempt the newly formed Fair Association from any lease fees. Since no agenda item was in place to discuss this action, no action could be taken. Characteristically, the motioning supervisor followed with a burst of theatrics.
This prompts me to make a couple of observations. That the county would be better served if certain supervisors dropped their pontificating on unrelated Washington partisan politics and concentrated instead on the business at hand. And that elected county officials are placed in office to serve the good of the county and not to do favors for certain friends.
Two points worth remembering are the facts that the county presently has two mechanisms in place for recouping Fairground maintenance costs – winter storage fees (currently the moneymaker) and lease agreements. And that enough money is generated by Fairground lessees to earn a substantial profit for lessees and cover maintenance costs.
The one agenda item that did follow through with a motion to go forward to the County Board was the resolution supporting the concept of a Volunteer Fairground User Group Management Organization. This could be a positive move on the part of Fairground users considering that the Fairgrounds will need a considerable amount of renovation. I suggest, however, that the County Board seriously question a proposal that the very users of the facility might also administer the lease agreement for the county.
Diana C. Smith