Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 4, 2014
County fair will return this summer

But budget for popular event will be less than previously set 

After a one year hiatus, the Tooele County Fair will return this summer.

Tooele County Commissioner Jerry Hurst announced at Monday evening’s county fair board meeting that Congress funded the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program and now the county can go ahead and plan a fair.

The fair will be held July 31 and Aug. 1, 2 at Deseret Peak Complex.

However, the amount the county can spend on the summer event will be less than originally budgeted for 2014, according to Hurst.

“When we approved the 2014 county budget, it included $125,000 for the fair,” he said. “That money was to come from the transient room tax fund, but the county attorney has advised us that TRT funds can only be used for certain parts of the fair that involve tourism.”

Mark McKendrick, Tooele County Parks and Recreation director, reported after the cancellation of the 2013 fair that the 2012 fair cost $192,000 to put on, not including staff time, and brought in $141,000 in revenue. The county had to pay the $51,000 difference for the three-day event.

County commissioners have agreed to cover $50,000 of expenses for the 2014 fair, said Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne.

“Our share of PILT funding came in at $200,000 over what we anticipated,” he said. “As a commission, we are comfortable with using up to $50,000 of that for the fair.”

The $50,000 is the maximum subsidy from county funds for the fair, including both the general fund and the TRT fund, Milne said.

He advised the fair board to devise ways to track the number of people from outside the county that attend the fair.

“If we can get an accurate count of where people come from to attend the fair, we can justify the use of TRT funds to cover some of the fair expenses,” said Milne.

A 1995 Utah state attorney general opinion states that TRT funds are intended to be used to promote tourism and should not be used for celebrations conducted for the enjoyment of local residents, according to Milne.

After receiving the good news about county funding for the fair, the fair board elected Ron Baum and Janice Clegg as co-chairpersons of the fair board, and proceeded to discuss the 2014 fair.

Plans included entertainment with a big name performer and other local and regional talent, a demolition derby, livestock show, 4-H exhibits, and other events to be confirmed.

“We need more fair board members and volunteers to help with the fair,” Baum said.

He extended an invitation to anyone who is interested in helping with the fair to attend the next fair board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on April 7 at Deseret Peak Complex.

In March 2013 the fair board voted to cancel the county fair in light of the county’s budget problems, which led to the layoff of employees that played an important role in the fair.

The Tooele County Chamber of Commerce tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the fair in 2013.

Last month the fair board voted to delay proceeding with plans for a county fair this year until the fate of the county’s federal payment in lieu of taxes was decided by Congress.

PILT’s estimated $3.1 million in revenue accounts for 13 percent of the county’s $23.4 million general fund budget for 2014.

“Without PILT there would be no fair,” Milne said.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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