[Vision2020] Bonners County Public Gets Riled

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Nov 16 09:39:42 PST 2011

Courtesy oof the Fall 2011 issue of the Farm Bureau Quarterly at:



Bonner County Farm Bureau Holds Public Meeting on Fairgrounds
By Bob Smathers

If there is one thing that can get the public riled, it’s when rumors get
started that popular local government programs are going to be eliminated.
Bonner County Farm Bureau held a public meeting on Thursday, October 13
after such a rumor had surfaced.

County Farm Bureau President Alton Howell presided over the meeting that
attracted over 100 people with some incensed over the idea that the Bonner
County Fairgrounds, extension, and the historical museum
might be on the chopping block. Also attending the meeting were Bonner
County Commissioners Lewis Rich and Mike Neilson. The third county
commissioner, Cornel Rasor was not able to attend.

The primary purpose of the meeting was informational, but it was clear
from the start that the public was upset. “The fairgrounds and the museum
are part of our culture – why would we consider cutting them?” commented
one attendee. “It is shameful. The fairground is the family
room of the county,” said Bonner County Farm Bureau board member Mary Miller.

Commissioner Mike Neilson quickly dispelled the rumors that the
fairgrounds, extension, and the historical museum were on the chopping
block. “We have a budget issue to deal with,” said Neilson. “We are asking
the community to help us balance the budget and if they would support the
implementation of user fees to pay for the fairgrounds, extension, and the

Nielson made reference to a controversial ballot that was soon to be sent
to Bonner County property taxpayers with questions on how to finance these
programs. “We are just trying to figure out how to pay for
the fairgrounds, extension, and the museum. We are not for doing away with
the fairgrounds; but how do we pay for it?”

The ballot that Commissioner Neilson referred to generated anxiety and
discussion by attendees. Questions were presented to the commissioners by
several individuals regarding the contents of the ballot and why it was
being sent out. Neilson indicated that questions on the ballot were
designed to assess whether Bonner County property tax payers would support
a fee based fair. Also included in the ballot was information on what the
fairgrounds was costing the county
each year.

“The ballot makes it sound like taxpayers are funding the whole fair
project when the fair actually generates enough income to offset a major
portion of the cost,” said Trish Gannon from the River Journal.
Commissioner Neilson was asked whether or not the ballot included the
income that the fair generates each year to offset a portion of what the
county contributes. He said it did not.

A recess was called in the middle of the meeting by President Howell to
allow anxieties to rest over cookies, coffee, and punch provided by the
Bonner County Farm Bureau. During this time the commissioners were
available to converse and answer questions. After the recess, the meeting
was resumed and President Howell asked attendees to offer positive
questions and comments and most took his advice.

In the end, Commissioner Neilson agreed that not all the information was
on the proposed ballot for the taxpayer to make an informed decision, and
said he would pull it. “What it comes down to is the budget,” said
Commissioner Neilson. “Zero based budgeting is our goal and not raising
taxes in the county.”


Seeya round town (especially at the fairgrounds), Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Author Unknown

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