New bill could move Kansas State Fair out of Hutchinson
Could the state fair be moving out of Hutchinson?
A bill in the Kansas house would let other cities try to bring the fair to their towns.
After spending all her life in Hutchinson, Diane Zimmerman can't imagine it without the Kansas State Fair.
“I would hate to see one more thing go, I mean it's something that we can do when we live here but it also brings in a lot of outside revenue,” said Zimmerman.
Hutchinson is home to the state fair for more than 100 years, now the representative who introduced the bill says his purpose is not to move the fair from Hutchinson, but to get the city and state fair board talking.
"What is behind it is there have been some fees and so on that the city of Hutchinson has put in place that has really dramatically for the state fair,” said Rep. Don Schroeder, who introduced the bill.
“I find that very interesting because it's created quite this firestorm and I think a better approach might just have been to maybe talk to both parties and maybe have that conversation,” responded John Deardoff, Hutchinson City Manager.
A lot of this revolves around money for improvements at the fairgrounds.
The stormwater fees for the fair did jump around 40,000 dollars a couple years ago, but the city says they are trying to find ways to help with that.
There is a bill in the senate that would move all the state sales tax into the fair's capital improvement fund.
“We have two major buildings that need major capital, and we need a plan to do that, and the city and the county and the state and the fair all have to work together, that's the solution,” said Bob Moeder, Kansas State Fair Interim General Manager.
Meanwhile, most people living in Hutchinson say the fair needs to stay.
“It's so important to this city of Hutchinson that I'd even be willing to absorb and extra tax to be able to keep it here,” said Jimmy Willingham of Hutchinson.
The bill that would let other cities try for the fair isn't expected to be heard because of how late it is in session.
Kansas lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would allow the State Fair to leave the city of Hutchinson after more than 100 years.
The Hutchinson News reports that Republican Rep. Don Schroeder says the bill proposed Monday was inspired by the people "involved" with the fair who are unhappy with the city. He declines to identify anyone by name.
Schroeder says one of the contributing factors to the dissatisfaction is the city's stormwater fees, which jumped to approximately $50,000 per year.
If passed, the bill would require the fair's board to request proposals from other cities in Kansas to host the event. The board would also be required to submit a report detailing the results of the proposals to several legislative committees.
Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com
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