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Taylor County Commissioners question Expo Center horse stalls as budget item

By Kristen Pope, Reporter, kpope@ktxs.com
Published On: Aug 07 2013 07:12:01 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 08 2013 12:17:13 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Taylor County is trying to balance their budget for next year.

They have to make some tough decisions and one of those is a request from the Taylor County Expo Center for money to by 50 new horse stalls costing $77,000. However, there is a question as to whether the county will assume the cost or the Expo Center will  pay.

County Judge Downing Bolls refers to the relationship with the county and the Expo as that of landlord and tenant.

"I know that it's important to the community and I agree with everything they said in their argument, but the point of the matter, are we not wondering off of our role which is to maintain that facility, crossing the line and getting into making it a better facility and if that's what we want to do, that's something the community is going to face to decide," Bolls said.

The grey area regarding who should pay for the stalls comes from the terms of the contract between the county and the Expo Center. The county owns and maintains the Expo, but it's not responsible for the Expo's operations.

The Expo hosts million dollar generating events like the 4H Horse show and the Western Heritage Classic.

"That's the first thing (horse owners) ask you is how many stalls you have," Taylor County Expo Center General Manager Rochelle Johnson said. "The second thing they ask you is what is the condition of your stalls? They spend a lot of money for  their horses and they don't want to put then in a stall that's gonna harm their horse.

Paying for the stalls would be a discretionary cost to the county, since they are not obligated to assume the bill.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Stan Egger is torn on the issue.

"If we don't purchase the stalls we save about $70,000 so it’s kind of a catch 22,” Egger said. “It's like a lot if things. It's hard to say it’s a black and white to what we should or shouldn't do. It's kind if a grey area. Which is the most benefit to the tax layers and the community?"

Johnson said, the Expo Center is making plans to locate funding outside of the county, if they don't receive the money.

"We are gonna have to look for sources of funding for stalls or other improvements to this facility that belongs to the county from outside sources, whether they be private grants or whatever the case may be, and that's fine," Johnson said.