JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS/

FAIR BOARD MEETING

July 18, 2002

11:30 a.m.

Fairgrounds, Room 2, 796 W. 13th Ave., Eugene

APPROVED 10/16/02

 

Fair Board Members Present:Charles Warren, Dean Hansen, Angel Jones.

 

Commissioners Present:††Bill Dwyer, Peter Sorenson, Cindy Weeldreyer (by phone).

 

Fair Staff Present:††Warren Wong, Jean Duncan, Jeri Kaufman, Jon Elvert, Jackie Mikalonis.

 

Guests Present:††††Bo Freeman., Larry Gilbert, Tom Hoyt, Mike Gleason.

 

County Staff Present:††Teresa Wilson, County Counsel.

 

Fair Board Vice President Charles Warren called the meeting to order at 11:40 a.m.Mr. Warren conveyed the Fair Boardís apologies for Francisca Johnson not being present due to an accident she recently had.He also conveyed that Mr. Hunton was absent due to surgery he was having.

 

Mr. Warren welcomed the Commissioners and County Staff, and introduced Angel Jones, the newest Fair Board member.He thanked the Commissioners on behalf of the Fair Board and staff in their support of the Fair Board over the last year.

 

1.Staff and Service Changes

 

Mr. Hansen shared with the Commissioners the current status of staff and service changes.Highlights of those are as follows:

 

Mike Gleason retired from PERS and the Fair Board. He is currently working as a consultant on specific projects.His main projects are the Planetarium, Community Green and Stormwater Connector capital project.†††

 

Mr. Wong is now Managing Director responsible for Administration and Operations of the Fairgrounds.

 

The Food and Beverage Department has been outsourced to a private contractor.The goal is to turn that cost center to a profit center.

 

A Maintenance position is being held vacant and the work is being contracted out to determine if this approach is cost effective.

 

2.Capital Projects:

Mr. Hansen reviewed the current capital projects that are either in process or are pending:

 

Mt. Pisgah Ė The Fair Board contributed $5,000 towards this project and is in support of whatís going on.

 

Community Green Ė The conceptual design has been approved by the Neighborhood Association and has been reviewed by the City of Eugene.Estimated at $1.4 million Ė Fair Board share $328,000

 

Convention Center Re-roof -Design specs are in process for re-roofing the Convention Center.Bids should be in by end of July.The work will be done late August and September.Estimated cost $200,000 - $350,000.

 

Stormwater Connector Ė Will see the progress on the tour today that Larry Gilbert and Mike Gleason will give.

 

3.Financial

 

Mr. Warren gave a brief review of financial position of Fair Board.He reported there is an operating profit before depreciation of $63,903 vs. ($123,085) in FY01.Mr. Warren commented that financially this year was a difficult feat.The staff have faced many challenges and overcame them.

Some highlights are:

 

Beefed up marketing program and became even more aggressive.

Eliminated seven full time positions.

Major energy conservation program.Everything resulted in showing a profit this year.All were accomplished at the same time the staff and board dealt with the stormwater situation.

We will face many new challenges this year.PERS and medical.

Took two major steps that will make an impact:†† 1) Mr. Gleasonís new role as a contractor will save $60,000 in benefits and salary.2) Outsourcing the Food and beverage department is a major financial change.Wonít have $100,000 expense and hope to receive $100,000 in revenue.Early indications are that it is working well.Lunch is from them today.

Mr. Wong set up an ambitious goal to build a cash reserve of equivalent to one year Fairís net revenue contribution.We are in the black and although we had difficult times last year we feel good about the future.

 

4.Sport Programs

Mr. Warren reported on some of the down sides of the sports facility (basketball floors in Expo Center).

Arenít very high quality.

Lighting is poor.

No room for spectators.

Only one restroom.

Canít attract the tournaments we wanted due to the poor quality.

Canít give the leagues a dedicated facility.In the middle of basketball and volleyball seasons we hold the Logging Conference and we have to shut down those facilities in order to hold that event.

Instead of a profit center it has become a community service.

It will never be what we wanted it to be.

The drop-in element of the program will continue.

 

Ice Center:

Mr. Warren reported that the Ice Center continues to do well.It was $50,000 net over expenses.It was a slow beginning in the fall but it picked up when the Olympics were held.The youth hockey program continues to grow.We are only utilizing 60-70% of the facility.

 

5.Livestock Building Business Plan

 

Livestock Building

 

Mr. Warren reported that the Livestock Building has had minimum use over the last two years because of prohibition of animals in the winter months.We lost revenue from the ride clubs and horse shows.We estimate $80,000 loss of revenue each of the last two years.The building is still used for Logging Conference, 4-H and other small animal shows. We hired Kim Short of Med Solutions and came up with the best use of the facility.The final recommendation is to continue to utilize the facility just as it is, and take advantage of the fact that it is one of the largest indoor arenas in the area.†† We are currently in negotiations with a BMX racing organization for them to utilize the facility.We hope to have them on a number of events this winter.We are led to believe that this could lead to regional and national tournaments.

 

6.2002 Fair

 

Fair Update

 

Jane Holloway presented the Fair Board and Commissioners with a press packet of information for the fair.She reported that the daily program guide is in the process of being updated and copies will be sent to Board members and Commissioners.She commented that the marketing brochures are at all Bi-Mart stores in the county.She also commented that included in the press packet was an invitation to the Senior Pie and Ice Cream Social on Wednesday during Fair.The Commissioners and Fair Board members were invited to attend and help serve pie and ice cream to the Seniors.Ms. Holloway reported that Sponsorships are up and there are many new events happening at the fair this year.

 

7.Planetarium

 

Jon Elvert reported that there was an increase in camp programs.They are providing a number of special events that are doing well.He has been spending a lot of time gearing up for programs in the fall.He provided a handout of public shows premiering in August.He stated that it was a busy and exciting time.

 

Mr. Gleason reported that the Fair Board embarked two years ago on a project on how to keep the Planetarium in the community.The Fair Board had to notify Lane ESD that it didnít look like the project was going to happen and they were getting close to having to drop it.The County agreed yesterday to hold a public hearing and have a discussion regarding a Planetarium General Obligation Bond measure.The Fair Board appreciated that.Mr. Gleason introduced Tom Hoyt to talk about the issue.

 

Mr. Hoyt stated that he has come before the two boards today representing the citizens of Lane County.He was the last chair of Cooperative Museum Commission.His dream was to have a destination in the community where we could attract visitors from outside. In April of this year he received a call from Mr. Gleason stating they were getting ready to lose the Planetarium.Mr. Hoyt met with Mr. Gleason to brainstorm how to get the project back on track.There was no conversation at all at that time about a bond measure.The idea was to raise enough money to finance it with foundation and gift money.He realized that it didnít look like they could raise that much money and that maybe they could raise money from the community to help endow and raise the funds.Mr. Hoyt asked the Commissioners for their input and to see if the plan would be doable.His sense is that they can raise $1.5 million before they do the bond, and then another $1.5 million with the bond measure.The Kiwanis pledged $24,000 of their strawberry money for the project and that encouraged him.The other issue raised was how come they learned at the eleventh hour that the Board of Commissioners is being asked to put this on the ballot.The time frame has been very rapid.He likes the idea of Lane County being involved.He said it was preferable for Lane County to own the buildings at the fairgrounds.This Fair Board serves at the Board of Commissionersí pleasure.It makes business and management sense for the bond to come from Lane County.There is a long history of Lane ESD working in conjunction with the parties involved.It is an uphill battle.There is a shared vision with a lot of different entities.Mr. Hoyt envisions school buses financed by the businesses in the community to transport children to the facility.School teachers will no longer have to raise money and take students in their cars or pay their way.Mr. Hoyt asked the Commissioners to tell him if they are barking up the wrong tree.

 

Commissioner Dwyer responded that he has not seen any expanded business plans, operating budget or expected revenue.He understands Lane ESD wanting to pass it on to the Commissioners because if they donít own it then they donít have to operate it and pay for it.He commented that it may come to fruition but he is not convinced.He stated that there was a different plan at one time, but they keep changing it.He questioned whether a $3 million endowment is enough to run it.Commissioner Dwyer stated that education is not one of the Commissionersí charges.He commented that it was more appropriately handled by the service district.He stated that when they changed the name from a Planetarium to a learning center, then there is more of a expectation to teach and the Commissioners are not in the education industry.He needs more answers before he will even consider it.He wants to see a plan of where the money will go. What is the life of the bond?What is the expected payoff?He commented that the amount keeps changing.He feels he is being pushed into something that needs a lot more evaluation.

 

Commissioner Weeldreyer commented that she would like to counterpoint Commissioner Dwyerís concerns.She wanted to put more of a positive spin on the project.She stated that they are creating a hybrid that is part of bringing tourism into the community.She does want to know answers to some of the questions Commissioner Dwyer raised, but she would hope that the Commissioners continue to have and share the same vision for this unique facility that we want to put in Lane County.She said it was important that we donít get bogged down in the nuts and bolts and lose the momentum to create this facility.

 

Commissioner Sorenson thanked the volunteers from the Fair Board because their work on the project has been really long and they have had several difficulties getting to this point.The fairground is an excellent location for this facility.In terms of the board direction yesterday to have our staff work on the process by which we could, if we chose to, put this on the ballot, he encouraged fair staff as well as Lane County staff, to work to get the answers to the questions asked.Commissioner Sorenson commented that he viewed things as a continuum and internally his heart is all for it.He still has a lot of questions as well.He commented that every Commissioner is concerned about the details and how much it costs, the length, where is operating money going to come from.We are doing something that this community needs, itís that good of a project.He stated that this isnít just a learning center for children to come in, they are talking about technology, something that is truly at the national or international level, and that interests Commissioner Sorenson from the same standpoint of the overall direction that Mr. Warren and Mr. Hansen has been developing, in that what can we do to bring money from outside this community that enables people from in our community to enjoy the benefits as well.Mr. Hoytís offer to raise the money for the campaign and work with the people involved is an offer they donít get too often.Commissioner Sorenson commented that he likes what is being done, he likes the cooperation between the fair, Lane ESD, the community, and the business industry, but he still wants the answers to the questions.He wants to know if it will pencil out or will the taxpayers get stuck in the money.It was his feeling that you need to keep going with it.

 

Mr. Hoyt responded that he was told that if they postponed for 23 months then the Planetarium would fold and SkyVision would go to Portland.We have a world class program in Lane County and he would like to see it stay there.If we do nothing it goes away and all the money spent towards it was for naught.He envisions two fund raising campaigns needed:††† 1) raise money to support the ballot measure.2) When it passes we are prepared to raise the $3 million at the Oregon Community Foundation.

 

Teresa Wilson commented that given the fact that we have three commissioners in attendance, she asked that they move the August 14th date to Aug. 13th due to the need to have the commissioners present at the pie and ice cream social for the Seniors on August 14th.The commissioners concurred.Ms. Wilson stated she would talk with Arlene Marshall, Management Services Supervisor, about changing the date.

 

Commissioner Dwyer commented that there are five other things on the ballot and we need to look at them and make sure it doesnít deter from the other measures.We need to remember that the other things they are trying to do are important things and any campaign that we endeavor to embark on needs to compliment the other measures.

 

Mr. Warren commented that on behalf of the Fair Board we appreciate the commissioners and their confidence in the Fair Board.You canít be anymore successful than the people that work for you.That is true of the fairgrounds.We have a remarkable staff here.As you take pride in the grounds, we hope that you also take pride in the staff.

 

There being no further business to come before the boards, Mr. Hansen moved to adjourn to take the tour of the 4-H Fair.Ms. Jones seconded.Motion unanimously carried.

 

The meeting was adjourned to do the tour of the 4-H Fair at 12:35 p.m.

 

††††_________________________________________

††††Charles Warren, Vice President and Co-Chair