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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Alachua County Fair association says county acted unjustly

<p id="docs-internal-guid-25455bdf-7fff-2b8e-ef7f-fb3db82a250a" dir="ltr"><span>Emma Hennessey, a 19-year-old UF business sophomore, rides the “Rock and Roll” with 19-year-old Demarco Reaves Saturday evening at the Alachua County Fair. Reaves was happy to experience a local event because he was visiting Hennessey from North Carolina.</span> <strong>Look at the gallery <a href="https://www.alligator.org/multimedia/family-fun-at-the-alachua-county-fair/collection_a2dd0170-d59e-11e8-a377-879ebca0643f.html#2" target="_blank">here</a>. </strong></p>

Emma Hennessey, a 19-year-old UF business sophomore, rides the “Rock and Roll” with 19-year-old Demarco Reaves Saturday evening at the Alachua County Fair. Reaves was happy to experience a local event because he was visiting Hennessey from North Carolina. Look at the gallery here

The Alachua County Fair is in limbo because of unpaid charges. However, those charges may not have been properly calculated.

The Alachua County Commission decided Tuesday to cut ties with the Alachua County Fair Association over an unpaid balance of $1,980, an unapproved pig race and a lack of communication by the association.

The $1,980 balance was based on the rental fee of the fairground, which is 10 percent of the fair’s profit, said Gina Peebles, the assistant county manager of community and administrative services.

Robert Mullen, the association manager, said the county had inconsistencies in how it looked at the association’s finances. It confused net worth with net value when calculating what the 10 percent rental fee would be.

According to one spreadsheet provided by the county, the association owed $1,980. A spreadsheet given to Mullen by the county showed the association owed $41,119.96.

Peebles said the differences between the two reports were due to them being done before and after the 2018 financial information was given to her.

Only one year of the last six on the spreadsheet provided by the county matched the association’s 990 tax forms.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the county listed that the association’s revenue was $53,236 and the expenses were $46,902. The 990s said it was $57,399 and $46,903, respectively.

Peebles said the differences between the spreadsheets and the tax forms were due to the county trying to ensure that it did not tax other sources of income the fair received.

However, Mullen said that Peebles never asked for the 990s. The association only allowed the county to look over a certified review of their finances.

An independent certified public accountant that works with the association reviewed its financials and did not find that it owed money, said Mullen.

This would have been the 51st year the association hosted the fair, Mullen said. The association will still hold a fair regardless of the county’s involvement.

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“No one can do the fair like we do, and we will still do it,” he said.

Mullen said there has been tension between the association and the county for a while, but he was surprised it came to this point.

“We decided whether we owe the money or don’t is irrelevant,” he said. “We don’t believe we owe it, but we will pay to put this behind us.”

Peebles said that nothing that happened in the meeting should’ve surprised Mullen.

“I told him I was going to say that the financial issues were still not reconciled, and due to that we would recommend not entering into another contract with them,” she said. “Until they pay, we are not going to entertain the idea of entering another contract with them.”

Emma Hennessey, a 19-year-old UF business sophomore, rides the “Rock and Roll” with 19-year-old Demarco Reaves Saturday evening at the Alachua County Fair. Reaves was happy to experience a local event because he was visiting Hennessey from North Carolina. Look at the gallery here

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