County committee backs boost in fair funding
Increase would cover fair employee salaries
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Though the Oneida County Conservation and University of Wisconsin-Extension Education Committee decided Monday to table a resolution that called for funding the county fair for the next five years, committee members agreed to seek an increase in the financial support for next year’s fair as part of the UW-Extension’s budget.
Committee member Jim Winkler, who is also the committee’s representative on the Fair Board, advocated increasing the county’s annual support for the fair from the $13,507 budgeted for this year to $21,130, which he noted would cover the salaries of the fair coordinator as well as the secretary and treasurer. Those three individuals, who are contracted or limited-term employees, along with the Fair Board president, were present for Monday’s meeting.
Winkler said it is “ludicrous” to expect county employees to have to raise their own salaries. He called for the increase in funding so that the fair employees could instead focus on raising money for the fair.
The resolution made reference to the fair currently being held at Pioneer Park in Rhinelander, where city officials have sought a commitment from the county to keep the fair there for the next five years before making infrastructure upgrades, such as expanding the electrical system for the benefit of the fair, which now has to pay extra for additional electrical service.
Committee member Robb Jensen said the resolution was “mixing things,” noting that the amount of county funding for the fair had nothing to do with the electrical infrastructure at Pioneer Park.
Jensen, who also pointed out that the county previously planned to have the fair become self-sufficient financially, said the county puts together an annual budget that changes from year to year, rather than funding something at a given amount for the next five years.
Facing a county directive to keep budget spending levels the same for next year, Jensen said something else might have to be cut to offset an increase in funding for the fair.
Committee chairman Bob Mott, who noted the resolution “has some holes in it” and urged the committee to table it, favored including the amount requested for fair funding for consideration by the full County Board. He also suggested the Fair Board look into the possibility of having the fair be designated as a non-profit organization able to accept contributions that would be tax-deductible for the donors as another means of raising money.