The free ride appears to be at an end for nonprofit organizations that use the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
County commissioners said Wednesday night that they're particularly interested in charging a fee to groups that charge admission or lease booth space to vendors for events at the fairgrounds. If a local nonprofit organization sponsors the event, the county now does not collect rent.
Commissioners couldn't agree on how much to charge. They instructed staff to visit with representatives of the group that is the largest free user of the fairgrounds to see if a solution can't be found.
The Lawrence Region Antique Automobile Club of America hosts a three-day swap meet every May and a car show in the fall. George Lauppe, the AACA's spokesman, said that the proposed rate schedule would require the group to pay about $4,000 in fees to the county each year and that the group wouldn't be able to afford it.
By charging a fee, county officials hope to defray utility expenses, which are running about $40,000 a year, as well as the cost of maintenance.