By Donna Westfall – August 21, 2018 –  At this morning’s Daily Town Hall Meeting – open to the public –  held from 6-7 am at the Fisherman’s Restaurant, Linda Sutter, announced her run for the Fairgrounds 1/4 cent sales tax Board.

We discussed the ’17-’18 Grand Jury report concerning the two Fairground Boards.  Let’s distinguish one from the other:

First there’s the 41st Board (41st). Those members are appointed by the Governor.  Some current members have been on the board for a decade and some going on two decades or longer.

Then 4 years ago, we elected members to the 1/4 cent sales tax fairgrounds board (LOCAL BOARD).  They serve four years and then they’re up for re-election. The sales tax was voted in to keep the fair going and the whole reason for creating the LOCAL BOARD.

There were a few questions raised about the transfers of money.  Having taken in $54,000 a MONTH from the 1/4 cent sales tax, the County got in about $1.9 million when they transferred nearly $1.3 million to the LOCAL BOARD, meanwhile the County is retaining 30% for reserves.  The reserves are to keep the Fair operational beyond the seven years when the sales tax ends. Keep in mind that the State stopped funding the 41st at $200,000/year.

The LOCAL BOARD has kept nearly $360,000 in reserves.  The LOCAL BOARD has  transferred or spent $921,000. Nobody seemed willing to disclose exactly what happened to that $921,000. It’s a wonder that the Grand Jury couldn’t get that information. After all, they have access to all kinds of records and personnel.  Why couldn’t they get that information? Were they told to stop investigating?  If yes, by whom?  Could it be – Presiding Judge Follett? Has this happened before on other Grand Jury investigations?

But, here’s the recommendation expressed by the Grand Jury report. “R7. The Local Board should provide more detailed accounting of income, expenditures, and transfers to provide greater transparency and accountability to the public.”

Oh, yawn.   How many times have we heard that before?  The question needs to be:  FAIRGROUNDS BOARDS…. when will you start posting these things on your website as you indicated you would do years ago?  Are you hiding something? If you’re not hiding anything, then why didn’t you provide an accounting to the Grand Jury?????

CORRECTION:  AUGUST 30, 2018 – The BOS does not respond to the Grand Jury on this matter. The following statement in italics is erroneous The Board of Supervisors has 60 days in which to respond to the Grand Jury report.

Dave Slagle, a bean counter, was foreman for the Grand Jury.  He’s CEO of Hambro.  He knows how to get things done.  This is astounding that Slagle couldn’t get the information.

Questions:

  1.  Should a recommendation be made rescinding the 1/4 sales tax?
  2.  Should a forensic accounting be demanded of the Fairground Boards about the $921,000?
  3. Should the BOS discuss on a future agenda why the Grand Jury is so ineffective?

What do you think?

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Are the Fairground Boards Hiding Financial Data?”
  1. No surprise here. When you give government any kind of money, they will find a way to buy a box of thumb tacks for $921,000.00 and not think that anything was wrong with that, because, wait for it, the board said it was important to buy a box of thumb tacks. Seriously, the fairgrounds has been mismanaged for years. With all the covered space available, there should have been money making events held year round to support maintenance, and operation of the fairgrounds without resorting to an increase of an already sky high sales tax. Keep in mind all of the people that sit on boards in the county that can’t seem to live within their income and the first go to remedy is increase some sort of tax. Say again HARBOR COMMISSION, just how much thinking went into this fall’s proposed bed tax, then think again about how much it is going to cost local businesses when locals and visitors continue to stream north to avoid this highway robbery. We have way too many boards and commissions in the County that don’t take full advantage of what we already have before going hat in hand for a quick fix out of local pockets. Those same boards and commissions seem to be under the mistaken impression that this kind of bad behavior is okay if no one objects. About time maybe the light needs to be shined on all of this kind of waste and fraud. Grand Juries even without Judicial corruption can only do so much if our elected Representatives won’t step up. And most importantly good representation only happens when the electorate does their homework and goes to the polls.

  2. Here are my thoughts on this matter. I worked the fair in the capacity of a volunteer this year. I observed many things while on those grounds. I specifically worked the floral department.

    I saw that the floral department still had carpeting on half the floor that was probably as old as the fair grounds itself. No fresh paint for the floral room. it looked like the outside of the building had a fresh coat of paint over the partially rotted T-11 siding. This department should be one of the main attractions at the fair, where everyone would want to visit.

    I started expressing some suggestions on how that place with little money could be a major point of interest, however, it went on deaf ears. This years theme was suppose to be “Magical”, with pictures of sci-fi worlds. it was magical all right, it was magical that we got as many flowers as we did. In the meantime, the person in charge was happy to bring out 20 year old plastic to skirt around the display tables. There was nothing hung on the walls, and nothing to look at or feel other than the flowers. I would like to see a major change.

    The day before the fair disaster struck when the 30 year old fountain leaked water into the kitchen area and the floor; there was no way to tell anyone there was an emergency except to walk down to the office. That alone should alert you to the fact there are no radios to alert staff there is a problem. Just an observation. There are no AED’S in the building nor fire extinguishers. If there is a medical problem there is no communication whatsoever to communicate the problem. In fact there should be a complete security station set up with someone who can handle complete emergencies without disruption of the fair.

    I noticed a breastfeeding station had been developed which was real nice, don’t know how much that cost but it is a nice place for ladies to take their children and quietly feed.

    in my opinion, I believe in going big or go home. Each year the fair decides on a theme. Why not get the Art Departments of the High School and College of the Redwoods involved and make the whole room come alive with the flowers and wall decorations to fit the theme. I don’t claim to be an artist, but I can turn a complete room into something “MAGICAL”. When you create you want it to be so magical that people from Brookings come to visit. More attendance means more money, More money means better fairs.

    As for the questionable $921,000.00, I was surprised that BOS Chairman, Chris Howard chose to ignore any mention regarding this matter, refused to discuss it even though it was on his watch to get Measure F on the Ballot.

    In the Grand Jury Report it appears all the board members are “harmonious.” That is very good, but it still does not create transparency for the precious tax money. We, the people, have been paying for this tax for approximately 4 years. There should be something more noticeable at the fair than a bathroom which was painted, a couple of roofs done, and a family room. In regards to the painted bathroom, they, whoever “they” are neglected to seal the bathroom floor and will have to repaint the bathroom floor again. This kind of repair is fruitless if it is done incorrectly to begin with.

    This is an election year. Maybe it is time to make a change and give someone else a chance to make much needed improvements.

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