To the Editor,
This is regarding the very probable demise of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Over the past several years, complaints about the deplorable sanitary conditions that exist at this complex are staggering. As a past member, many locals still regard me as part of the fair board and still present me with their complaints. The only tie with this establishment is that I care about its future.
Several organizations that rent this complex are threatening to move elsewhere. The fair board is fully aware of this problem, along with many others, but the blame doesn't lie with them but with the almighty dollar, or lack of. This complex brings in more money into the city than any other entity out there. During events, it fills up our motels, restaurants, RV parks, and helps some of the few remaining businesses that are left. If this complex were to shut down, it would help drive the final nails into the coffins of some of these companies.
Since the change of management of this complex, they have been able to keep from dipping into the county taxpayers' pockets (general fund). Their revenue comes from the rental of the grounds, gate fees during fair week, county hotel-motel tax, and a small amount from state funding, which is very iffy from year to year. With all this funding, it is barely enough to pay the bills, let alone the cost of maintenance and improvements.
Now, for the fix and slam.
Many moons ago, the county adopted a 6 percent room tax. It is known to many as TOT, T-tax, or hotel-motel tax. One-third of the monies were to go to the fairgrounds. The county has done a great job honoring this agreement. Several years ago a past city mayor and current administrator decided they wanted to keep all the city tax money for themselves and increased their part to 9 percent and now all goes into the city's pocket.
The city reaps all the benefits of the fair complex, but pays nothing to support it. For every visitor who rents a room in Madras, the city gets 9 percent of the motel tab. This year alone, this tax revenue came to $194,561. Just one-third of the original 6 percent agreement equals $42,808 that was lost.
This $42,808 needs to be reallocated yearly to the fair complex's capital fund account so the above-mentioned improvements can be made to start turning this establishment into something we can all be proud of.
In the past, I've referred to the City Council as a bunch of puppets. Now is their chance to prove me wrong and do the right thing.