Boone County finds temporary management for fairgrounds

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | 7:06 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Boone County will pay $45,000 per month to a firm that's been hired as the interim manager of the county fairgrounds.

Mike Teel and Brent Gibson represented the recently formed TAG Events, LLC, at Tuesday's commission meeting. The firm will have a three-month contract, and the total cost of the contract for the county will be $135,000.

Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said the money will be used to hire people for cleaning up, putting on events, making updates to the grounds and putting an accounting system in place.

She said the county is helping cover costs so whoever becomes permanent manager will be able to "hit the ground running."

County auditor June Pitchford said any money spent by the county will be handled as a transfer from its general fund to its fairground maintenance fund. The commission will have a work session with Pitchford on Monday.

According to a draft of TAG's contract with the county, if any required maintenance items cost more than $5,000 a month, the company can meet with the commission to help cover costs. That means the county could pay up to an additional $15,000 to TAG.

The commission has been searching for new fairgrounds management since current manager George Harris announced in August that he would retire. Friday is Harris' last day on the job. TAG's contract will begin Oct. 1 and expire Dec. 31.

The Boone County Fair Board's lease of the grounds also will expire, leaving TAG as the sole operator of the fairgrounds. Previously, the fair board was in charge of the property's finances and received no county money.

TAG will revamp the accounting system for the fairgrounds to provide "open and transparent information" regarding income and expenses, said Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin.

Elkin described the current system as "all one big revenue column and one big expense column" that doesn't show how much specific events cost and earn.

Gibson, an accountant, described himself as a "numbers cruncher by trade" at Tuesday's meeting. TAG must establish an accounting system that is "complete and orderly," according to the draft of the contract.

Elkin said that in the coming weeks the commission will put out a request for proposals for a permanent manager. It is "highly probable" that TAG will apply for the permanent position, he said.

Both Teel and Gibson, who also work together at Mid-City Lumber, have volunteered with cleanup and maintenance at the fairgrounds for years. Elkin also volunteers on Fridays.

The contract will have its second reading Thursday and will be subject to the commission's approval.

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Robin Nuttall September 29, 2011 | 1:51 p.m.

I wonder who someone would talk to that is interested in a possible future event date at the fairgrounds? It's my understanding that all contracts are up for review, and I know a club who is interested in pursuing a future date...

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