City, Pendleton rodeo to work on raising tax money
PENDLETON — Backers of Oregon's biggest rodeo, the Pendleton Round-Up, say they'll work with city officials to find ways to bring in more revenue to pay the property taxes on the rodeo grounds — but it won't include advertising in the arena.
The rodeo has been struggling to pay its taxes since it took ownership of the grounds from the city four years ago, using the property as collateral for a renovation loan.
The rodeo association expects to fall about $50,000 short when the tax bill is due in November, and that would be about the city's share of the total bill of $110,000. A state tax court has ruled against the rodeo's request for an exemption.
At a meeting Tuesday, Round-Up President Tim Hawkins spoke for 20 minutes on how the September rodeo, which draws an estimated 50,000 people, benefits the community, the East Oregonian reported.
He said the Round-Up would consider bringing more events to the rodeo grounds, but selling advertisements in the rodeo arena is out of the question.
“We cannot commercialize our image in the arena, and we will not sacrifice what has made us the world-famous Pendleton Round-Up,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins questioned whether the “windfall” of funds the city and the local development commission get from the rodeo's taxes is worth the cost.
“When we pay our taxes, we are not able to invest that in our facility,” he said.
Hawkins agreed with Mayor Phillip Houk to form a committee to find more revenue but suggested a third party choose its members.
“I?don't have any other expectations right now other than I'm sure we can solve all of our issues if we just sit down and talk,” Hawkins said.
City Council member Jane Hill said it's OK?for the city to discuss providing public funding to the Round-Up, but given the court ruling, not paying the taxes is off the table.
Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info