EATON — Preble County Commissioners continue to work with the Preble County Fair Board on the Expo Building Expansion project.
During a commission meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 30, Commission President Rodney Creech shared, he had a meeting with Fairgrounds Manager Jim Shute and Fair Board President Clinnie Stevenson to discuss a recent letter sent to the board regarding the facility.
“I had a great talk. I think everyone is on the same page, it is just how we negotiate and meet in the middle,” Creech said. “I said, we will work with you, but just know that however we work with you, it is going to take that much longer. If you are only doing five years at 50 percent, we have to figure out how much the building is actually going to make, and do our math backwards.
“I think, and my understanding is they keep saying, ‘We can’t assume debt.’ I, again, reiterated, [the Fair Board] will have no debt. The county assumes all of the debt, we just have to pay it back. They said, the five years — 50 percent, how they came up with that is, they are already starting to see business from Bruner Arena move to the Expo Addition.
“They are saying, ‘we are going to be losing revenue from one building, because it is going to be shifting to another.’ I said, ‘technically that is not new.’ We need to get together and renegotiate.”
Creech added, he considers new business bringing something into the county that has not been previously hosted at the Fairgrounds.
“So, the reason they threw that 50 percent out, was if they lose something at Bruner Arena for $500 a day and they are moving to the other building for $1,500 a day, the Fair Board gave up $500 to get the $1,500 to give to [the commissioners],” Creech said.
He suggested coming up with a percentage for the Fair Board to pay, dependent on how much money they make from the building each year. For example, if the building makes $30,000 a year, they pay a certain percentage toward how much is due.
“They are not losing revenue. If you go from renting $500 to renting for $1,500, you’ve gained $1,000 there,” Commissioner Denise Robertson said.
“If they rent Bruner Arena for $500, they get 100 percent of that. If that person moves to the Expo Expansion and pays $1,500, we are asking for 100 percent of that money to go toward the payment,” Creech said.
“No, that is not the way I would perceive it. I would perceive it as, we would get $1,000. They are shifting over something that already existed. We have been telling them [to pay us] anything that is new to the fairgrounds,” Robertson said.
“We are not trying to take any new revenue away from them,” Commissioner Chris Day said. “We would need to look at that, if there is a revenue shift. All we are saying is, any additional revenue, that would be used to pay down the debt.”
“Long story short, [Stevenson and Shute] were 100 percent in support of our levels of engagements and they are 100 percent in support of the building. I told him I would be willing to meet with the individuals who are not wanting to negotiate and tell them we’re in this for you guys, for the county and community. We just have to figure out how we will come up with the additional dollars,” Creech said.
“I propose we come up with an estimated budget. If the building makes between $15,000 and $20,000, it is this percent. If the building makes between $20,000 and $25,000, it is this percent. Per year.”
“I would be fine with this if there was a minimum payment they had to make and then on top of that, if they go above and beyond a certain point, another percentage applied to that minimum payment. The sooner they can get this paid down and we can turn this over to them, the better,” Robertson said.
Day added, he is afraid the percentages will stretch out the project. He believes there should be a minimum payment to meet each year.
Creech countered, it is not fair to require the Fair Board to make a $20,000 payment, if they only made $19,000 from the building. He believes this is the Fair Board’s fear moving forward.
“I just wanted to bring it up. We don’t have to make any decisions, I just feel like we probably need to do some projections,” Creech said. “I’m not saying I’m set on this, but I thought it was a good starting point. The key word was, Shute said, ‘We need to sit down and negotiate.’
“If you guys are willing to negotiate, we are going to be moving this thing forward. If we weren’t going to negotiate, we were going to have to have 100 percent of the money before we broke ground. I believe this could work. It needs to be in writing.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH