Red Willow County's fair board cut $5,500 more from budgeted expenditures Monday morning to help commissioners maintain the county's $.036 tax levy.
Fair board member Jay Schilling told commissioners during their weekly meeting that fair board members reduced building and grounds repair by $3,500 and shifted $1,000 in building supplies from the fair budget to the Kiplinger Arena budget
Commissioner Steve Downer suggested making a cut in heating fuels because the county locked in its per therm cost at 62 cents, compared to $1.27 last year. With heating fuel locked in at less than half the price of last year, and with potential savings created by the Ag Complex's new roof and windows that fair board officials hope to complete this fall, Downer suggested cutting $2,000 from the $12,000 budgeted for heating fuels. The actual expenditure last year for heating fuels for all fairground buildings was $10,396.
Schilling, fellow board member Dr. Wayne Watkins and fair board secretary Deb Lafferty agreed to cut $1,000.
The new Ag Complex roof, a sprayed-on-foam roofing system like the one installed on the sheriff's office in the summer of 2003 and on the county shop in Bartley this summer, is estimated to cost $39,000. Fair board members, commissioners and county attorney Paul Wood discussed state statutes that require advertising and requesting bids on projects projected to cost more than $20,000.
The fair board and commissioners continued to discuss the construction of a shop building estimated to cost $25,000. Schilling said the fair board does not want to put off construction for another year, as the barn that maintenance workers now use for a shop can be returned to stalls rented during livestock events at the Kiplinger Arena. "It's not a huge revenue," Schilling said, but, he explained that the rental fees can help offset some of the shop's construction costs.
Lafferty reported that preliminary figures show that the county fair lost $7,030. Expenses totaled $31,590; income was $24,560. Lafferty said that several expenses and income items are expected to come in through October.
Schilling said the fair has always provided bedding for 4-H animals, but at $980, it's something they may require exhibitors to provide. Schilling said there will also be an effort to reduce the number of free passes, particularly free entrance to the rodeo, which showed no profit this year. Profits from the rodeo in the past three years have been $2,079 in 2008, $2,572 in 2007 and $1,159 in 2006.
Lafferty presented a spread sheet that indicated these profits on county fair events: Carnival, $12,966.48 (up from $11,822 in 2008); wild horse races and steer riding $1,217.75 (down from $1,899 in 2008); and stock car races, $1,979 (up from $741 in 2008).
Expenses included: Mutton busting, $275; chore relay, $320; draft horse competition, $1,350; ventriloquist midway act, $3,750; pedal tractor pull, $492; semi show-and-shine, $295; open class help, $850; cleaning and set-up staff, $2,698; sponsors, $3,200; displayers, $5,195; open class judges, $310; 4-H judges, $3,133.55; open class premiums, $2,016.25; 4-H premiums, will be available in October, estimated at $3,500; fair advertising, $4,395; portable toilets, $750; spectator insurance, $4,775; wood chips, $980.
Free events were the country music showdown and cowboy church.
Lafferty's report indicates that total revenue from fairgrounds facilities for July 1, 2008, through June 31, 2009, was $170,584, and came from these buildings and events: stock car races, $6,500; Kiplinger Arena, $78,151; and Community Building, 4-H Building and Merchants Building, $27,825. The federal government rents half of the Ag Complex for $59,988 per year.
Lafferty pointed out that the fair board provides space, rent-free, for the county's health department and the Extension service in the Ag Complex, eliminating rent expenses and the expense of building supplies in the health department's and Extension's budgets.
Lafferty also pointed out to commissioners that a projected expense of $200,000 in the fair board budget would be made only if that same amount of money were donated to the fair board and shown as revenue on the revenue side of the budget. If an expense is not budgeted within a budget year, a donation made would have to wait a year to be included in the budget and then spent.
Dr. Watkins, a new member on the fair board, asked commissioners why the fair board, and not Extension, is responsible for much expenses as the 4-H premiums and judges. He also questioned why the fair board, and not the Sheriff's Department, is responsible for the cost ($1,700) of hiring the Sheriff's Posse for traffic control on the fair grounds during the fair. "We just get the bills," Lafferty said. "If we can't control the spending, why is it coming out of Deb's budget?" Watkins asked.
Commissioners agreed to look into these situations, and come up with answers for the fair board.
Commissioners approved the fair board budget with the reductions made and a slight projected increase in revenue due in part to full or near-full calendars at the Kiplinger and other fair ground buildings.
Gary Dicenta, the county's roads superintendent, told commissioners that they must ask for and be granted a relaxation of standards to qualify for federal government stimulus funds to put an overlay on the county road at the north end of McCook's East 11th street.
New standards implemented since Red Willow County submitted overlay plans for the county road project called "McCook North" four years ago require that the road have a 24-foot roadway top and six-foot shoulders. It currently has 11-foot driving lanes and four-foot shoulders. The original overlay project was estimated to cost $900,000.
Meeting the new standards would most likely mean acquiring additional right-of-way, building the road base seven feet wider on each side, and increasing the cost of the project above the $1 million mark (a point at which commissioners across Nebraska agreed that federal funds granted to Nebraska for highway projects would not be granted).
McNutt said commissioners have no other option but to ask for a relaxation of the standards.
Commissioners approved the final levy authority for these county subdivisions:
Danbury Cemetery: Tax dollars requested, $3,745.02; levy rate, $.016842.
Hamburg Cemetery: Tax dollars requested, $799; levy rate, $.005706.
Lebanon Cemetery: Tax dollars requested, $3,000.06; levy rate, $.02523.
High Plains Historical Society: Tax dollars requested, $16,658.78; levy rate: $.002476.
The levy rate for each of these fire departments is $.03800.
Bartley Rural Fire District: Tax dollars requested, $23,460.
Beaver Valley Fire District: Tax dollars requested, $26,804.37.
Indianola Rural Fire District: Tax dollars requested, $31,027.
Red Willow Western Rural Fire District: Tax dollars requested, $55,308.30.