Fairgrounds tax is good investment

By Observer editorial August 11, 2010 11:32 am
The Wallowa County Fairgrounds in Enterprise provides a venue for a wide variety of events. The county would be remiss to let the grounds go underfunded. Wallowa County, like virtually almost every county in Oregon, is finding itself hard-pressed to find a way to fund the operation and maintenance of its fairgrounds. State funding has continued to slip away, almost to the point of being non-existent. A few more rounds of
recession-era funding and state support will be gone.

Wallowa County’s advocates for the fairgrounds, spurred on by Randy Garnett, the fairgrounds manager, and the fair board, have over the course of the past year come up with a strategy to keep the grounds financially viable. In November Wallowa County voters will be the first in the state to vote on a fairgrounds taxing district. Garnett and the fair directors have garnered support from each municipality in the county. The county has held hearings on the matter. And recently the county commissioners agreed to put the proposal on the November ballot.

Wise move. The estimated tax rate would be, at most, 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Should state support not fall as much as expected, that number would be reduced. The 19-cent tax rate would amount to $19 a year for every $100,000 of property value. For that small amount, the fairgrounds will continue to exist and events like the fair, rodeos, Hells Canyon Mule Days as well as others will continue to have a venue.

The fairgrounds provide an event center for the county — a place for local folks to participate in events and come to be entertained. And many of the events help bring people to the county.

Wallowa County needs its fairgrounds. And the proposed fairgrounds tax would be a small price to pay for all that the venue provides.