By Conor McCue

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Jefferson County Fairgrounds could be on the chopping block, as county leaders continue their efforts to save money amid major budget cuts. On Tuesday night, the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Advisory Committee will hold a meeting with the county manager to discuss the future of the fairgrounds.

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The main topic will be the possibility of moving the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to an enterprise fund, which would “remove the fairgrounds from the county’s General Fund and require it to become a self-sustaining operation,” a county spokesperson said.

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“I don’t think that’s possible with a fairgrounds still offering the services to the county residents,” said Mark Skelton, chairman of the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee.

The fairgrounds receives $1.8 million annually from the county’s General Fund. According to Skelton, it only recovers about $500,000 in costs every year.

If county commissioners find it’s not possible for the fairgrounds to be self-sustaining, they could choose to close it, move it, or keep operating it at a loss.

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Any decision would not affect the funding of groups that utilize the fairgrounds, such as the Westernaires or CSU Extension programs, but closing the space would leave them in a tough spot.

“I’ve always thought the county government had a responsibility to provide services to the county residents, and this county has done that for many, many years,” said Skelton.

Christi Mangusso is among the many people planning to attend Tuesday night’s meeting. The longtime Jefferson County resident and 4H club leader grew up visiting the fairgrounds and now takes her kids there.

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“I understand that there are budget crunches, but at the same time, this is a very similar entity to kids who play sports,” she said. “I would hope they listen to all sides and not just the money.”

No decisions will be made at the meeting on Tuesday night, a county spokesperson said. Instead, the county manager will take his findings and brief the three county commissioners on Feb. 4.

Other departments are also feeling the pains of the current budget predicament. CBS4 has previously reported on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s decision to close a floor and release inmates early, due to budget constraints.

As part of the budget cuts, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office released 47 inmates early on Tuesday. They released 21 inmates early on Sunday.

Conor McCue

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