Boone County Commission amends budget to give fairgrounds additional money

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | 8:27 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Boone County Commission passed a budget amendment that will increase the amount paid to the TAG Events LLC for maintenance, repairs and utility costs at the Boone County Fairgrounds. 

The amendment will transfer $85,192 into a fund for fairgrounds maintenance and cover the costs of utilities and repairs. A reserve fund of $89,944 will also be created for future costs.

TAG Events, founded by Mike Teel and Brent Gibson, took over operation of the fairgrounds on Oct. 1. The company has a temporary agreement with the county to manage the grounds until Jan. 1. It is currently in negotiations for a two-year contract. 

In a report provided to the commission, Teel and Gibson listed all of the expenses and revenues for their first month at the fairgrounds. They spent $32,876, nearly half of their revenues for that month, on maintenance and repairs.

The new amendment to the county budget will cover additional maintenance costs for the remainder of this year. The money for the maintenance fund will come from extra money collected from the Boone Hospital Center's lease agreement.

Under the temporary agreement with TAG Events, the county pays half of the utility costs. Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said additional money was needed because those costs and the costs of repairs exceeded expectations. 

"These are things that go above and beyond" what was originally predicted, he said. The average monthly cost of utilities from January through September was $9,000.

The maintenance fund for the grounds will go toward paying for those utilities, as well as minor repairs and unpaid bills for things like roofing, plumbing and electrical supplies, Elkin said. 

The county will not have to pay for machinery maintenance. Teel owns most of the equipment used at the grounds, including tractors, skid loaders and manure spreaders. The value of these, he said, totals $238,000. He decided to purchase the items himself in order to relieve the county of any repair costs associated with the machinery. 

The new maintenance fund, which covers costs until Jan. 1, does not provide enough money for larger repairs that are necessary at the fairgrounds. The Coliseum, the main building, has a leaky roof and event attendees get wet when it rains. It will cost $150,000 to fix, Teel said.

The commission members are holding work sessions with the county auditor and TAG Events to determine the terms of the two-year contract and the fairgrounds' place in the 2012 county budget.

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