Fairgrounds fund

Commissioners designate use tax as revenue for project

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This conceptual drawing shows the modern ranch look Canadian County commissioners have selected as their favorite for the new fairgrounds that is under consideration.

By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – Canadian County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve use tax as the funding source for a new county fairground complex.

The Canadian County Fair Board and the building committee put the request to allocate use tax to the board on Monday. A study which illustrated the need for expansion and a new location was presented to the commissioners and the public in September.

Former Oklahoma State University Extension Director Brad Tipton is the fairground board’s community facilitator. He said the fair board is considering selling bonds in addition to use tax allocations.

“This just gives us the green light for a funding source. That question of how to fund this has been somewhat answered,” Tipton said.

The final price tag for the new facilities has not been determined because other costs are still unknown such as the cost of land and how much use tax can support it. Tipton said about $155,000 a month in use tax is collected, but the number changes monthly. The Oklahoma use tax is a 4.5 percent levy on the purchase of tangible personal property purchased outside the state and used in Oklahoma.

“There are three locations at play,” he said. “All three are in Canadian County with two in El Reno city limits and one near Banner Road. It takes some time to deal with that. We are moving post haste to get that site selected and that will be an open process to let people know why we would choose that location.”

A heated discussion erupted on Facebook in September when citizens were concerned about the fairgrounds moving out of El Reno.

“People want to know because of the history, because it’s always been here and it’s been a legacy. If it ends up having to move they want to know why and we want to have reasons why. On the current 13.8 acres we are aware it won’t house what we need and everybody knows that. Why can’t we construct where we’re at? Because we need at least 120 to 140 acres for the facility (with) what we’re going to build and that nixes the current location,” he said.

The project is moving forward relatively quickly with a possible projected date for completion to be announced by the county free fair this fall.

“We’re going to be able to surprise people with a target completion date sooner rather than later. What we envision at this county fair is a rendition of what they’ll have at next year’s fair,” Tipton said.