It's troubling to see -- once again -- county commissioners moving forward behind closed doors with a plan to spend tax money. This time it's an anti-beer agenda. Commissioners have told fair board members the county would offer up $7,000 and additional security if the board agrees to not allow beer to be sold at this year's county fair. It's wrong and downright sneaky to make decisons about expenditures out of view from the public.
The fair board had been reviewing the results and impact from beer sales that were allowed at other county fairs, including last year's fair in Ottawa County. County commissioners upended that review by offering up tax money equal to what it was thought the fair might earn from beer sales.
How does this make any sense? The fair board is capable of making this decision and county commissioners have every opportunity to conduct public deliberations in public. It's seems it's always easier for commissioners Tom Ferrell Jr., Nancy McKeen and Bill Monoghan to come to decisions without any input from the public and to decide to spend tax money without a thorough review of the options.
The fair board was conducting that review, and it is the group most capable to make a decision. We don't understand why commissioners felt a need to insert themselves in this process, but we understand why the fair board is considering accepting the money from the county. But answers to questions a review might provided now will be put off until another time.
Would beer sales increase attendance at the fair? Would it cause any disruptions to this annual event? The offer of additional tax money from the county will delay getting answers because the fair board effectively will receive tax money instead of good old fashioned earned revenue.
With so many planning decisions ahead, we understand why the fair board would accept the county cash and move on to other pressing issues that need addressed.
But the patriarchal "we know what's best" attitude from county commissioners is troubling, as is the ease by which they fork over precious tax dollars in an age of shrinking revenue without vetting their decisions in public.