Long Term Future of Ag Park Unclear

COLUMBUS – The Platte County Ag Society approached the county board to discuss their budget, which spurred conversation about the future of the Platte County Fair.

Brian Palmer spoke with board members Tuesday morning, requesting approval of a $650,000 budget for the next year.

Last year at this time, county supervisors approved a budget of $500,000, which was $14,389 under the requested amount. Palmer says the increase in the amount being requested this year, is due to issues with the building, and repairs that need to be made to the facilities at Ag Park.

Palmer says the Ag Society is only spending money on necessary improvements to the facilities.

This spurred conversation amongst board members and Palmer about the future of the Platte County Fair and the Ag Park facilities.

Palmer said repair costs will most likely continue to rise, as the building gets older.

Supervisor Ron Pfeifer stated that the county is only required to supply funds to support the fair, and not the buildings owned by the Ag Society. Pfeifer suggested the idea of looking at purchasing roughly 40 acres outside of town to build new fairgrounds on.

Palmer referenced that Seward County and Cass County have recently paid 2.9 million and 1.8 million respectively, to improve, renovate, or construct buildings for their county ag societies.

Palmer also said that the facilities are used year round, for educational and agricultural programs, as well as fundraisers and private events, in addition to the fair and horse races.

Palmer does not charge certain groups to use the facility, if it is to educate youth, such as extension programs, or if it supports a community program in need, such as the Inclusive Playground fundraiser held earlier this year.

Supervisor Hollie Olk stated that it is hard to put a price tag on the impact the facilities have on the community.

The supervisors did not approve or deny the budget request, but tabled the motion for approval at a later meeting. Supervisors cited hat they were waiting for township budgets and levees to be set, before they would approve Ag Park’s budget.

Palmer said the Ag Society can begin looking at what potential long-term options they may have to renovate, replace, or improve facilities out at Ag Park, per the request of the board. Without a certain level of financial support from the county, the future of the Ag Park facilities could be unclear. The counties support is only a portion of what the Ag Society makes in revenue each year, through weddings, events, and the restaurant at the location.

The issue is set to come before the board again on September 5th.

Platte County Supervisors and Ag Society Board members did state at the meeting that Palmer has done a great job, since taking over at Ag Park.

This is a developing story.

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