Editor’s note: This is the first of a four-part discussion regarding a Nov. 3 referendum to enact a tax levy for relocating the Gallia County fairgrounds. Subsequent articles will publish in Sunday editions between now and the election.
GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Junior Fair Board has distributed a “frequently asked questions” brochure to many in the community, held several public meetings and spoken with numerous groups about their proposal. Junior Fair Board members Brent Eastman, Tim Massie and volunteer Jodie Penrod sat down with the Daily Tribune to discuss the proposed tax increase on the Nov. 3 ballot.
DAILY TRIBUNE: How much additional tax will an individual pay if this tax increase passes?
MASSIE: The additional sales tax will only be .25-percent, or one-quarter of one percent What that means in terms of money is that’s one penny for every $4 spent or 25 cents of every $100 spent and $2.50 of every $1,000 spent. Keep in mind, this is for goods and services only. There’s no additional taxes on food or property.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Who pays the tax?
EASTMAN: Everyone who purchases goods or services bought in Gallia County. That’s the fairness of a sales tax. Everyone pays. And, everyone who travels through or shops in Gallia County helps us relocate and improve the fairgrounds because they pay the sales tax, too.
DAILY TRIBUNE: How much will the relocation cost?
MASSIE: The new fairgrounds is expected to cost an estimated $9.5 million. Based on current sales tax collections and how they’ve been running the additional sales tax will generate an estimated $900,000 per year. We will structure the $9.5 million debt over 20 years with an estimated annual payment of $700,000 (this assumes a four-percent rate on the loan). Whatever sales tax is collected over $700,000 will go directly to loan principal. So, if we do collect $900,000 we will be applying $200,000 to the principal amount. We will apply anything collected over the annual payment to principal.
We anticipate being able to pay the loan off before 20 years. If sales tax collections continue at the present pace the loan would be paid off in about 14 years. When the loan is paid off the sales tax goes away.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Tell me about the feasibility study done for the site and who actually did the study.
PENROD: The fair board contracted with Johnson Consulting from Chicago. This is a firm that specializes in fairgrounds and real estate development. Representatives from Johnson Consulting visited Gallia County and our current fairgrounds. They analyzed the facilities we have now, proposed facilities and comparable facilities to determine the impact a new fairgrounds facility would have on Gallia County. From that study it was determined a new fairgrounds was a need of our community and that Gallia County would greatly benefit from the additional utilization a new fairgrounds would provide.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Does the fair board already own the land where it plans to move?
EASTMAN: Yes, this land was purchased several years ago and several volunteers have already done some groundwork to prepare for relocating the facilities. The fair board owns the land free and clear. We bought the land years ago as we began looking ahead for such a need.
DAILY TRIBUNE: What will happen to the land where the fairgrounds sit now?
EASTMAN: That land can be used for various purposes. Some have expressed interest in pursuing partnerships to utilize that land for athletic fields or commercial property. The fair board is open to leasing the property or selling the land where we are now. If we were able to lease or sell that land, funds would go toward operating expenses for our new facilities. Basically, we’re going to look at all of our options, evaluate which of those options represents the best use of that land for Gallia County and go from there.
DAILY TRIBUNE: When would construction begin for the relocated fair grounds?
MASSIE: We will begin the relocation planning and construction process as soon after the levy passes as possible. Our goal is to hold the 2017 Gallia County Junior Fair at the relocated facilities.
Part two of this series that will publish next Sunday will discuss plans for the new facilities.