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Good weather and large crowds mean last weekend’s truck and tractor pull will result in a hefty donation for the county park.
Just how hefty that donation will be is unanswerable, and not because receipts from the gate and concessions are still being counted.
And that’s a problem.
The Anderson County Fiscal Court needs to adopt a hard-and-fast policy on using the county park for events of any kind, including those designed to be fundraisers.
Despite many meetings, anonymous innuendo and downright falsehoods, the current policy leaves the fiscal court and truck pull promoter Eddie Carey wide open for those criticisms and worse.
This isn’t a screed against Carey. We’ve said before and still maintain that Carey’s idea to bring these pulls to Lawrenceburg is a great one if for no other reason than that they draw thousands of visitors and their wallets to our fair city.
One would think the nearly invisible city/county tourism authority — does that still even exist? — could do the same.
We’ve also said it’s wonderful that Carey’s stated intention from the time these pulls started was to donate net proceeds from them to the fiscal court in an effort to improve the park.
But therein lies the rub. The pope could make that claim and, without independent accounting of gate and concession receipts, there would be some who question if all the money is actually being donated.
Carey has apparently lived up to his word. He has donated thousands in cash, and with his own labor installed what he says is over $13,000 in perimeter fence around the pulling tracks — which he also paid to have built.
Also, it’s Carey who fronts upwards of $20,000 from his own pocket to promote the pulls — money he risks losing if the weather or crowds conspire against him.
For his efforts, Carey gets accused of all sorts of underhanded tactics, including lining his pockets and those of Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway, who Carey and his family financially supported during the 2010 election. Both strongly denied profiting from the pulls during last week’s fiscal court meeting.
Those criticisms, nearly all made anonymously via online message boards or by lunch-counter prophets not men enough to do so in public, will not stop as long as no system is in place to shut them up.
The options, as we see them, are two. First, the fiscal court could hire workers to collect money at the gate and concessions.
Second and more appropriately, the fiscal court could manage the pulling track the same way it does other park assets: rent it.
Be it Carey’s truck and tractor pulls or the frequent truck tugs and lawnmower pulls, the fiscal court could establish a fee to rent the track, as it does the pavilions or Stratton building.
What the group that rents it does with its net proceeds after that becomes its business, not the fiscal court’s.
Of course that may be a tough sell to taxpayers, some of which almost certainly will reject the notion of public property being used for commercial gain, and rightfully so.
Nevertheless, there is little doubt that until the fiscal court concocts a way to eliminate at least most of the skepticism, the rumors, lies and innuendo will continue, and give an otherwise tremendous event repeated black eyes.