Fair owes $17,000 in back taxes

Who’s going to pay about $17,000 in back sales taxes that the Mille Lacs County Agricultural Society (fair board) owes the state?

Mille Lacs County Board Chairman Jack Edmonds brought that question up at the board’s July 17 meeting.

Edmonds, also a member of the fair board for six years, told fellow commissioners about the bill and how it came about.

He said there was a question for a long time about whether or not the fair board should charge sales tax at its back gate, the gate where drivers enter to compete at Princeton Speedway, a track run by the fair board.

“I guess the question was because the revenue there helps pay the drivers, just like premiums help pay the prizes at county fairs,” he said.

Edmonds said longtime fair board secretary Judy Gerth could never get an answer at state conventions held for fair boards.

“Our auditor said we didn’t have to pay it, so we didn’t,” Edmonds said.

But two years ago the state made a ruling that the tax had to be paid and the fair board has been paying it since, Edmonds said Friday.

The state audited the fair board’s books and went back two and a half years (not the seven years it could have, he said) and determined that the fair board owes about $17,000.

Edmonds then had a conversation with County Administrator Roxy Traxler  who notified him that it was legal for a county board to pay the bill.

“So I’m going to take a shot at it,” Edmonds said Monday.

He wanted to talk about it at the next meeting of the board on Aug. 7 but commissioners Frank Courteau and Phil Peterson will miss that meeting and they requested that it be delayed until the Aug. 17 meeting.

The proposal will be made then, Edmonds said.

“We’ll get it paid,” he said, “but it’s not in our [fair board] budget. I hope the county will pay it.”