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Plan will keep fair and staff intact for another year

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer

Supervisor Jon Kennedy devised the plan.

Fair Manager John Steffanic and his two-person staff agreed to take pay cuts to make the plan work.

The result is the Plumas-Sierra County Fair likely will stay in business with its current staff — at least through next summer.

Kennedy’s plan got a thumbs-up from the county’s budget committee Wednesday, Aug. 10. The Board of Supervisors was expected to approve it at its Tuesday, Aug. 16, meeting.

The plan centers around Steffanic taking a 50-percent cut in pay and eliminating his benefits package. The fair’s maintenance supervisor, Oran Morrison, and fiscal coordinator, Kathy Tedford, will take 10-percent pay cuts.

The trio’s concessions will save the county $62,143.

Kennedy, Supervisor Lori Simpson, fair board member Thelma Olson and Steffanic met Aug. 3 to hash out the plan. The supervisors had issued layoff notices to Steffanic and Tedford on Aug. 2.

Although the fair itself was never seriously in jeopardy, Kennedy and Steffanic warned that eliminating staff would lead to eroded services and hinder development of the facility as an event venue.

“This is a big deal,” Kennedy said as he was walking around the fairgrounds Thursday, Aug. 11. “This is the central stage of commerce and economic development of our county.”

Steffanic downplayed his pay cut, which amounts to more than $40,000.

His base salary is $65,000. His total compensation is close to $90,000 when benefits are included.

“Like a lot of people, I’ve been trying to eke out a living in this county for more than 30 years,” Steffanic said. “I’ve never had benefits before (this job). So that doesn’t really matter to me. I’m still better off than most taxpayers in this county.”

And Steffanic said he sincerely enjoys running the fairgrounds.

“This is a dream job,” Steffanic said. “At least part of my motivation was, yes, I want a fair. And if there’s not a fair manager or an infrastructure for the fair, it’s going to fall apart real fast.

“You got three people here who are highly dedicated. And we are hanging on, just by a string.”

County Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad, who has been guiding the supervisors through painstaking cuts in the face of a $1.8 million budget deficit, said the plan should work.

“I penciled it out. And Jon’s plan appears to solve the problem for one more year,” Ingstad said.

Ingstad said the fair’s estimated revenue for this fiscal year is $538,926. After the fair staff’s pay cuts are included, the fair’s expenditures are projected to be $615,620.

That leaves the fair with a $76,694 shortfall. However, the fair started this fiscal year with $86,684 in the bank. So, that means the operation should end up ahead by about $10,000.

Steffanic said he knows the supervisors were willing to do whatever they could to preserve the fair. He thanked Kennedy for making it a priority.

“Jon’s the guy who stepped up,” Steffanic said. “I was willing to do whatever it took. I’ve been trying to get an audience for a while. Jon was definitely the guy who got it going.”


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