Concerned about Jackson County finances, Administrator Danny Jordan told the Commissioners in a work session on August 11, that the Expo had a shortfall of some $450,000 following the Fair. Jordan noted that the Expo had gone from a paying venue to a situation where the county is having to increase contributions that are not being repaid.
Each year, the County fronts the Expo monies to pay for the carnival, entertainment and other necessities, until gate receipts and other revenues from the Fair come in. Fair Board President Mel Morris said that approximately 40 percent of revenues come during fair week in July. This has become necessary because the fiscal year begins in July, and the period from the first until Fair time does not allow the Expo to build any kind of bank account.
Jordan said that while there was no cause for immediate concern, not dealing with the problem might see similar shortfalls next year, resulting in perhaps a million dollar shortage.
Fair Manager Dave Koellermeier appeared before the commissioners, acknowledging the problem and explained that he has been seeking ways to cut expenses while at the same time increasing revenues. Koellermeier cited the admission charge for concerts as one of the areas the Fair needs to examine closely. He said entry data shows approximately the same attendance figures whether they charged for shows or not. So the obvious thing is to increase revenue by charging admission to concert events.
Dave Koellermeier said that attendance to the Fair has been steady, actually increasing this year by about 1.5 percent. He also explained that past attendance had been counted differently, giving rise to the belief among the general public that nothing needed fixing.
Fair Board members, past and present, were shocked by the figures announced. A board meeting will be held this week, and the present board will be briefed on the financial situation and asked to proffer ways to eliminate the shortfall.
Following the Fair Board meeting, the commissioners will again address the issue at another weekly work session.
By Ralph McKechnie
For the Independent