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City discusses dissolving fair authority
5 fair

The Cumming Fair Authority could be going away, with a new group possibly taking its place.

The authority was discussed at a special called meeting of the Cumming City Council on Tuesday, where councilmembers directed County Attorney Dana Miles to look at creating a new fair board to make recommendations to the council.

“It is my opinion that the way the fair authority is set up now, for the city to get ownership back of the fairgrounds and all that, we’ll have to dissolve the fair authority,” Mayor Troy Brumbalow said. “Then, my recommendation would be to dissolve that and set up a fair board that would appoint members.”

The fair authority became a hot topic for city residents recently after the previous city council — before Brumbalow and Councilmen Chad Crane and Jason Evans took office — voted to give more than $1 million to the authority to operate in 2017.

The move happened amid rumors during the 2017 election that the new officials planned to develop the fair into commercial space. Brumbalow has said that not only are the rumors untrue, but he hopes events there will continue.

Those who have voiced opposition to the authority cited concerns with the makeup of the board, which include several former elected officials.

Miles said he thought it might be possible to reform the current authority, but dissolving it and setting up a new group would be the “cleanest” way to go about it.

At the meeting, there was discussion of adding a new fair board that would bring recommendations to the council for approval.

“My feeling on this is the fairgrounds needs to be controlled by the people that are elected, the ones that are accountable to citizens,” Brumbalow said. “The fair board, those people can serve a lifetime and make recommendations … but just not have the ultimate authority about what goes on.”

Councilman Christopher Light said he would like to see a group made up to deal only with issues around the Cumming Country Fair and Festival

“… I do see the advantages to having a tailored authority for the fair itself. My personal opinion is to tailor a new authority just for the needs of the fair, not necessarily the fairgrounds, whereas the fairgrounds is operated as it always has been,” Light said.

According to city documents, the authority was created by an ordinance on Feb. 19, 2013, with an eight-member board.

In the ordinance creating the authority, it is stated the purpose is “to create a recreational authority to develop and promote the public good and general welfare through the maintenance, management and operation of the Cumming Fairgrounds.”

According to online property records, the owner of the fairgrounds is listed as “City of Cumming Fairground.”

Previously a reason given for the creating the authority was members had the ability to sign multi-year agreements, while the city can only sign agreements lasting up to a year. 

In the meeting, it was revealed the authority had never been used for that purpose and has not been part of any agreements. 

Miles said if the authority is dissolved, any agreements would refer to the city but the authority did not have any such agreements at the time.