Fair Budget OK'd Just in Time
By Samar Fay, Courier Editor
Published: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
A last-minute Fair Board budget dispute flared in the Valley County commissioners’ office on Tuesday. The Northeast Montana Fair opens on Friday.
Facing an estimated $1,000 shortfall, the Fair Board made some cuts, including office employees and two superintendents in the open class. At its last meeting the board voted to try something new for two years, cutting the amount budgeted to 4-H to pay interview judges, superintendents and clerks. These positions would be filled by volunteers.
The Fair Board’s Jerry Arnold said he checked with several other towns and found that only the town of Baker was still paying for these things.
“We need to get (the budget) balanced,” Arnold said. “We don’t have to make a profit but we have to break even.”
Roubie Younkin, the MSU Extension agent for 4-H, felt this was a bad precedent.
“I have concerns about ‘we spent/they spent,’” Younkin said. “The fair is successful because we cooperate. We could get volunteer everything – 4-H is a volunteer organization – but I have concerns with setting a precedent. 4-H has a very cooperative attitude but the leaders feel this is an insult to 4-H after all the efforts the leaders and the kids have put in over the years.”
The 4-H superintendents are paid $100 each for the five days of caring for animals. Open class superintendents are paid $150, according to Extension agent Shelley Mills.
“This makes me feel the 4-H superintendents have no value. The open class superintendents have a $150 value. Why? We all want a good fair. Why is 4-H the ugly stepchild?” Younkin asked.
“This is a tough time to make this decision,” said Commissioner Dave Pippin.
Commissioner Bruce Peterson proposed a compromise just to get through this year, since the fair starts this weekend. He asked if each side, the open class and 4-H could find enough volunteer superintendents and judges to make up the $1,000. Arnold and Younkin said they could each save $500 that way.
“I think it’s a good way,” Arnold said.
“I think it’s workable with the understanding it’s just for this year,” Younkin said.
After the agreement was reached, Commissioner Dave Reinhardt voiced his frustration with the timing of the controversy.
“I’m tired of this last-minute crap,” he said. “Before Sept. 1, I want to sit with the Fair Board and talk. I want to get it understood what the county is going to do for the next fair.”
Pippin recommended being really cautious and keeping “a strong dialog face to face.” He said the commissioners would write a letter to the Fair Board setting up the talk, and try to stop what he called the rumor mill.
“What is the goal?” asked Fair Board member Doris Ozark.
“A fair that represents all of Valley County,” responded Pippin.
“There you go,” said Ozark.
Click Here To See More Stories Like This