LOVINGTON — No more tokens at the fair.
The token machines at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo have served their purpose. At the recommendation of Jim Kemp, general manager of the fairgrounds, and the Fair and Rodeo Board, county commissioners approved a new method of collecting fees from outdoor vendors, during a county commission meeting May 25.
After hearing the proposal, Commission Chairman Ron Black said, “I don’t think anybody will be sad to see the tokens go, but tokens did serve a useful purpose. They gave us an accurate count on how much people were bringing in. Before that, all we had to go on was what they told us. Now, we have an accurate count of what they’re bringing in and it allows us to set a rate that’s fair to the county and fair to the person.”
County Manager Mike Gallagher said convenience for fair fairgoers is an added advantage of eliminating the tokens.
Kemp explained the use of the token machines over the last three or four years has provided enough information to develop an average income for each vendor, allowing the county to set a flat fee.
The resolution approved established the following changes to the food vendor contract:
1. Implementation of $300/per unit performance fee.
2. Implementation of utility charges/per unit.
3. Implementation of flat fee in lieu of 10 percent of daily sales.
4. Space, performance fee and utility charges due upon return of contract.
5. County Management to establish due dates for payments.
The $300 performance fee is refundable, Kemp explained, as long as the vendor remains on site for the full duration of the fair and rodeo and the vendor leaves the space clean.
Implementation of utility charges will be new. “The county has always just eaten those. I propose charging for electricity, waste removal and water,” Kemp said.
He told the commissioners he anticipates significant reduction in costs to the county.
“This would allow the county to eliminate the use of the tokens and token machines. This would also allow the county to not have the depreciation expense of the token machines,” he said. “Last year we spent almost $10,000 on maintenance of the token machines. Right now, we have six to eight that are inoperable.”
He told commissioners he had talked with six or seven regular vendors who generally liked the idea of removing the tokens and going to a flat fee. Commissioner Dean Jackson asked Kemp if there is a plan to buy back tokensthat people may have from previous fairs. “We discussed a one-time buyback program which would be during the week of the fair and rodeo for the tokens that are out,” Kemp said.
To questions from Commissioner Jonathan Sena, Kemp clarified the changes only affect food vendors outdoors and one that uses the kitchen facilities inside, but not general indoor booths.