Changes could be on the horizon for the Gila/Pinal Workforce Investment Board and Gila County Fairgrounds.
The Gila County Board of Supervisors discussed the board and fairgrounds April 26. The supervisors used a work session reviewing its boards, commissions and committees.
The Gila/Pinal Workforce Investment Board is supposed to develop both workforce training and vocational rehabilitation opportunities. It had a $2.4 million budget in 2010. The funds for the board are based on population, county manager Don McDaniel said.
“When we were working on the Job Corps (to get a Job Corps Center in the county) the question arose regarding the board’s efforts (in Gila County),” said District 3 Supervisor Shirley Dawson.
“We need to revisit this to find out what’s happening in Gila County. A lot is happening in Pinal County,” she added.
Dawson said she wants to see the board more active in Gila County.
“We have room to improve,” she said.
McDaniel suggested inviting the board to make a presentation to the supervisors and provide an update on its activities.
“Is Pinal thinking it’s not necessary to work with Gila?” asked supervisors chairman Mike Pastor.
District 1 Supervisor Tommie Martin expressed similar concerns and said it might be time to find a new home.
“I’m not sure that structure is serving us well,” Martin said.
Dawson asked if it would be possible for Gila County to move out of the Central Arizona Council of Governments.
“Do we need CAAG? It’s another layer of government. We need to see how to best serve our residents,” Martin said.
McDaniel told the supervisors the county could not unilaterally leave CAAG, however they could initiate a study at the state level to explore the options of realigning the Council of Governments.
The 180-acre Gila County Fairgrounds cost county taxpayers about $200,000 a year. The supervisors have started discussing if the facility is worth it.
The county also provides five staff members five days a week, plus pays those who are on hand during weekend events overtime or comp time.
The issue of the fairgrounds came up as part of the supervisors’ review of boards, commissions and committees. Each entity reviewed was to provide basic information such as its legal basis for establishment, areas of responsibility, membership and meeting information. While the supervisors have an organizational chart, none of the other information was available.
McDaniel said the Fair and Racing Commission, which oversees the fairgrounds, was all volunteers and their records were sketchy.
The activities at the fairgrounds include the county fair, rodeos and motor sports. Horse racing is no longer among the events at the facility.
“There is regular motocross activity there (just about every weekend) and no one has ever come to us about it. I don’t know if they have insurance,” said Dawson.
“It should be called the Southern Gila County Fairgrounds,” said Martin. Later she added Payson’s county fair is put on with a shoestring budget, but attracts more people (than the one in Globe). She said Young also has a county fair.
“If we’re going to save money, maybe we should just shutter it until there’s an event and if (presenting that event) is not covered by the revenue, it should be reconsidered,” Martin said.
She went on to say the board receives no accounting for what the events make and when it has, it has waived any kind of payment for use, letting the presenter keep all the money.
“I have a real concern about what’s going on there,” Dawson said.
“We need an in-depth financial accounting. We need to study it closely,” she added.
“I know there’s a concern about having it available 24-7,” Pastor said. “We need to look at the whole picture.”
McDaniel told the supervisors that other fair facilities are not open 24-7.
“It (the in-depth review) should be handled by (county) management rather that it becoming a political ballgame. It’s economics, not political,” Dawson said.
“It is economics and not political,” Pastor repeated for emphasis.
“Can they (the volunteers) form a nonprofit and take it over?” Martin asked.
Pastor said that would be something for Bryan Chambers of the county attorney’s office to look into.
“If we’re going to have a Gila County Fair Committee, we should look at what that means and how to make the fair fair and meet the needs of the whole county,” Martin said.