In response to the letter by Carolyn Flynn of June 25, 2016:
I cannot speak to all the issues she brings up in her letter, but I can to some, with some overall observations.
As for the fairgrounds, which seems to be a favorite topic with the Tea Party, she needs to get her facts straightened out. The present fairgrounds is “owned” by the Hancock County 4-H Ag. Association Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. You can look at their 990 tax return. If the ag association ever ceases to hold the fair and ceases operation, the land and buildings revert to Hancock County.
Ms. Flynn paints with a broad brush when she says that a few want to benefit from other people’s tax dollars to build the new fairgrounds/multiplex. I can speak for myself on this matter. I wrote the ag association a check for $1,000 ten years ago when we first talked about this project. At one of the first public meetings this time around on the new fairgrounds, I wrote them another check for $1,000 and asked others to match it. They still have the $2,000 in hopes of using it on the fairgrounds.
Look at the white board fence around the present fairgrounds. The names of financial sponsors are imprinted on the boards. Along with my family’s business, Tuttle Orchards, are the names of many other families and businesses. Most of them are ag-related.
Don’t paint the ag community with your brush. They largely built the present fairgrounds. The equine community has money in hand to put toward its “horse playground.”
She also seems to forget the countless hours this “select group” of citizens has donated to get the project this far. Don’t underestimate the dedication of the ag community and others to the 4-H program and this project.
Some general observations:
While there are plenty of instances where the taxpayer pays for programs and facilities that benefit only a few, there are plenty where they get their money’s worth.
Projects like the fairgrounds are open to the public to enjoy. I was a volunteer in the Pioneer Building two nights during the fair. I saw a lot of people enjoying the entertainment with their families who probably couldn’t afford to in a private venue. A lot of things at the fair you pay admission to enjoy. This takes a burden off your tax dollars. The new fairgrounds likely will have a small entry fee, which takes a burden off your tax dollars. The exhibitors pay a fee for their spaces. Tuttle Orchards sponsored the fair on Sunday for $1,000. You can thank them when you get a chance.
Did I expect the new fairgrounds to be built without tax dollars? Of course not; I’m a realist. Virtually no public services, schools, jails, swimming pools, parks, roads, airports, police or fire departments are funded without tax dollars, but almost all receive individual and corporate support to lessen the burden on your tax dollar. Also, it would be stupid to build a fairgrounds that would be used one week out of the year. It needs to have as many amenities as practical so it can be used year-around and generate revenue to take the burden off your tax dollar. Some things are worth the investment to have.
Thomas E. Roney
Hancock County Councilman