GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Junior Fair levy one-quarter of 1 percent sales tax will make a return to ballot in the primary election March 15.
As of election results Nov. 3 last year, 3,936 voters approved the levy and 4,126 voted against it. Fair board members decided to bring the issue back before the public this month because of the close margin.
The proposed ballot language that appeared before voters in November asked for a simple “yes” or “no.” It is labeled as a “Proposed Sales and Use Tax — (Increase) Gallia County.”
The ballot language states, “A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage. The Board of County Commissioners of Gallia County proposes to levy an increase of one-fourth of one percent (1/4 percent) in the sales and use tax for the purpose of relocating the Gallia County Fairgrounds out of a floodplain, and the associated construction and equipping of facilities necessary for conducting the Gallia County Junior Fair, associated youth activities, the French 500 Flea and Farmer’s Market, and other events/activities for a period of not to exceed twenty (20) years. Shall the resolution of the Gallia County Commissioners proposing a 1/4 percent sales and use tax increase be approved?”
According to Gallia County Junior Fair Board Secretary Tim Massie, estimates for the project of the relocation and construction of new buildings numbers around $9.5 million. The project estimates include fair infrastructure like roads and power line construction, as well as structure construction such as new show arenas and seating.
Arguably, should the sales and usage tax pass, it would mean for every $4 spent, one cent would go toward the fairground relocation project. This applies to goods and services but not food items or property.
Supposedly, the one-quarter of 1 percent sales tax increase would generate around $900,000. If the loan payment plan for the fairground project is set to be paid over a 20-year period, payments are estimated to be about $700,000 a year at a 4 percent fixed loan interest rate. The extra $200,000 raised per year would be applied to the principal balance of the loan, according to fair board members. As soon as the debt service was paid, the sales tax would cease to exist. Ideally, board members feel the service could also be paid sooner. The sales tax would not go beyond 20 years, if enacted.
According to Massie, because the amount of money in question for the project is so large, a separate committee of community leaders, business leaders and other such minded individuals will be sought to oversee the project and spending of the money for it.
Massie stressed that the fair board, nor the county commissioners, saw a cent of the project’s money. The money was solely to be used to pay for the fair relocation’s debt service. Massie said the $9.5 million fair project cost could be even less should the right contractor bid out a lower cost. The amount of the loan would be based on the contractor’s asking bid but is not expected to exceed $9.5 million.
Fair board members said the aim is to make the fairgrounds a multi-use, year-round facility for 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, FFA and the French 500 Flea Market. They also hope a year-round facility would attract other events and be useful to the community, as well as attract personal events. Some of the suggested options included hunting shows, church activities, weddings, sports shows and larger agricultural events.
The proposed land for the new fairgrounds is already under the ownership of the fair board and sits next to the Gallia County Junior Fairgrounds outside of the floodplain in which the current grounds are located. It can be reached by taking the side road next to the Shake Shoppe on Jackson Pike.
Should the sales tax issue pass, Massie said there would be two to three public meetings to address concerns with spending plans on the project at a later date.
Fair board members urged the public to contact them with any questions or concerns about the fair relocation project. They can be contacted at (740) 441-7938 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fair relocation project FAQ can be viewed at http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2015/09/Fair-FAQ.pdf.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.