EPHRATA – Grant County may divide a fee increase for non-profit vendors across three years.
Representatives from the Moses Lake Lioness Club, the Moses Lake Lions Club and the Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce met with Fair Advisory Committee members and other county officials Thursday evening to discuss changes in how the county works with non-profit organizations selling items at the fair.
The meeting was prompted by a potential 2.5 percent increase in the amount of money the fairgrounds takes from non-profit organizations selling items at the fair.
The county presently charges the groups $500 to use the booths during fair. If the group makes more than $500, the county charges 12.5 percent of the money it makes.
Fairgrounds Manager Jerry Gingrich suggested increasing the amount to 15 percent to cover increased costs of operating the fairgrounds.
“Everything that we do, like everything that you do, has gone up in cost,” he said.
The rates for non-profit vendors haven’t changed for at least 10 years, Gingrich said. In the same time period, electricity costs rose by 3.5 and 5 percent and the water bill rose by 9.4 percent.
“We’re about to undertake a large sewer project that we hook up to the city sewer and then we start paying a monthly sewer bill,” he said. “I understand that you all make money off of this, but we also make money off of this and without a fair, you don’t have a place to make your money. So it’s a partnership. We both rely on each other.”
The commercial vendors pay 20 percent of their profits to the fairgrounds. Gingrich said the fairgrounds plans to charge the commercial vendors to dispose of their waste.
“What’s happened in the past is they’ve dumped it down whatever drain they can find,” he said. “We’re controlling those drains, and we’re going to bring in holding tanks, any they’ll drop into those.”
Melisha Cook, from the Lioness Club, pointed out the fairgrounds is presently charging the vendors based on their total profits rather than the amount of money they made after paying for their product.
“You’re making money off of the product and the stuff that we’re purchasing, which I don’t think is right,” she said. “We didn’t make $70,000. We made $60,000 because $10,000 was just merchandise.”
Gingrich said it was easier to account for the total rather than determine how much the clubs spent to run their booth.
Gingrich suggested having a three-year contract and raising the rates across the length of the contract. The vendors agreed.
Moses Lake Lioness Club member Terry Sell said a gradual increase would give the organizations a chance to get used to the increase.