The Delaware County Fair Board has begun making plans for spending anticipated revenue from the county’s bed tax that the county began to collect June 23 for improvements to the county fairgrounds.
Chip Thomson, vice president of the fair board, told county commissioners Monday that the majority of planned work is to bring the fairgrounds and buildings up to code before the fair opens in September this year.
“Phase one is to put things into compliance,” said Thomson. “All the things we’re going to address prior to fair week this year are the basic maintenance upkeeps.”
Phase two of the plan, according to Thomson, is a new ag center building. “Phase two could be a pretty nice construction project,” he said. “The Ag center is going to be quite a structure. We’re going to remove the current 4-H center and put the ag center in its place.”
The county’s 3 percent, 5-year hotel bed tax — approved by voters last March — is imposed in all of the county on all hotel and lodging businesses, regardless of municipal boundaries, according to the rules approved by commissioners. The bed tax will be collected on the 23rd of every month, and started in June.
“We haven’t received a total yet, but do know the total does include Polaris,” Thomson said. “Over five years, it’s going to be a good figure. We’re going to be able to shape that fairgrounds.”
Until the numbers can be established, Thomson said the board has some money to spend. If they need more, they can go to a bank for a loan or to the Delaware County Finance Authority for bonds. “We’re not going to spend more than we have,” Thomson said.
Sandy Kuhn, fair general manager, estimated they will spend between $100,000 and $150,000 to bring everything into compliance on the grounds. “Only about a third of that will go to compliance issues,” she said.
Kuhn said a majority of the money this year will go to water lines and a new phone system. “I never knew phones could cost so much,” she said.
It has been less than a month since the county started to collect the tax. “We don’t even have a full month’s income tax in yet,” said Thomson. “We’re going to make every dime spend like a dollar.”
According to Thomson, five new fire hydrants will be added to the fairgrounds along with the new water lines. “The fire hydrants cost $5,000 apiece,” he said.
“The improvements will be done in a way that they’re going to last,” Thomson said. “Everything I hope we do will add 50 years to that fairgrounds.”
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said Commissioner Jeff Benton. “We can make this the best fairgrounds in the state of Ohio.”
Thomson said the grandstand had been inspected by the county engineer and given a green light for this year.
The exit doors to the coliseum were non-compliant and needed to be replaced, according to Thomson. “The city and the county have said you’re out of compliance,” Thomson said. “It blew me away with just the cost of fireproof doors with panic bars.”
Kuhn said that in every place where there have been improvements made, there will be a sign stating what was done, as a “thank you” to voters.
“It’s my hope to get some good stuff done before the fair, but we’re going to do it right,” Thomson said. “This is basically a total rebuild of the Delaware County Fairgrounds.”
The fair is Sept. 17-24 this year.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.