I am extremely disturbed by Linda Sutter’s ad in which she implies that there is $920,000 missing from the Measure F Special District Fairgrounds Funds. I no longer reside in Del Norte County, but as the past fair manager and CEO of the Del Norte County Fairground, I still have a personal interest in the success of the fair and fairgrounds.
I have spent 30 years, ensuring that the fair provided quality service to the citizens of Del Norte County. When fair funds were cut by the state, the citizens stepped up and passed Measure F to ensure that the fairgrounds would continue to exist into the future.
They also elected a separate board to oversee the management of the funds. This board is the Park and Recreation Fairgrounds District. It is made up of five elected board members. These five members are responsible for the disbursement of funds to the 41st District Board of Directors for the production of the fair and support the operations of the fairgrounds. In other words, keeping the doors open on a daily basis to serve the public.
Presently there is a Memorandum of Understanding that defines how the transfers of funds are conducted. The 41st District must submit to the special district board a budget which shows how much the fairgrounds will need to operate. Based on the approval of the budget, the funds are set aside and transferred to the 41st District. This is all done in open meetings.
Any additional funds are transferred only if documents of request are submitted. The shortfall each year is about $250,000. Which means that the fairgrounds will ask for approximately $250,000 each year to balance the budget.
The state, before they stopped supporting the fairs in 2011, gave Del Norte Fair $200,000 per year. The fairgrounds does not itemize where every dollar from the tax is used for. Their spending is controlled by the approved budget. So, they do not say that they are going to buy a box of nails, or the funds were spent on toilet supplies, etc.
The ¼-cent tax generates about $600,000 per year. One-third of that goes into a reserve fund, which is held at the county. It will be allowed to build up for seven years before it can be used. The rest of the funds are transferred to the special district’s bank account. There, it is available for the district to use, upon request for the operation support of the fairgrounds.
All of this can be found within the financial statements and audits. The trick is you must be able to understand what you are reading.
The bottom line: there is no money missing. Vote for Doug Wakefield, Sabina Renner, and Steven Westbrook, all business people who understand financial reports.