Delaware County’s 3 percent bed tax has collected $1.7 million in its first year, according to officials, far exceeding original estimates.
The 5-year tax was approved by voters in March 2016 and is designed to generate revenue for improvements to the Delaware County Fairgrounds. It is imposed on all hotel and lodging businesses, regardless of municipal boundaries. It’s collected on the 23rd of each month.
Initial projections indicated the tax would generate $200,000 in revenue annually.
State Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell Township, sponsored the amendment to the Ohio Revised Code that allowed Delaware County to impose a bed tax for improvements at the fairgrounds.
“We’ve spent about $511,000 on a variety of projects,” said Tom Wright, Facilities Improvements Committee chair for the fairgrounds. “There is a lot of things we’ve done that people won’t see.”
Wright said the first major construction project will be the new junior fair building. He said the committee is very excited about the building and the drawings are to be displayed during the fair.
“I want 10 of them displayed all over the place,” he said. “It will be a 40,000-square-foot building costing about $1.4 million.”
Wright said the building will house the fairgrounds offices, agriculture hall of fame, and county extension office.
“The kids are going to love it,” he said.
Wright said the project will begin as soon as the old junior fair building is knocked down after this year’s fair in September.
After competion of the new junior fair building, there might be two to four new buildings added to the grounds each year.
“We don’t have to seek out bonds,” Wright said. “We’ll have the cash to pay for it.”
Wright said current projects include the log cabin, which he said is 20 years old, but has not been well maintained. He said extensive work has been done to the exterior and the heating and cooling systems have been replaced.
“We’ve spent approximately $275,000 on the log cabin,” he said. “We just got that building to last another 20 years.”
Currently, crews are sandblasting, painting and installing new lighting under the grandstands.
“We want to make it more inviting to the people who attend the races,” Wright said. “It’s something drastically needed and we’re trying really hard to get that project done before the fair.”
Wright said the restrooms under the grandstands are very old and need to be replaced.
“That will be a six-figure digit to do,” he said.
Wright said last year’s major project was installation of new water lines to help lower the fairground’s water bill.
“We fixed a ton of leaks that were all over the grounds,” he said. “The amount we save will be more than we spent.”
Wright said new fire hydrants were also installed along with the water lines bringing the fairgrounds into compliance.
“We have fire hydrants in places we didn’t have them before,” he said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.