COSTA MESA : 'Conservative' Budget for Fairgrounds OKd

The Orange County Fairgrounds will begin 1993 with an $11.8-million budget that officials describe as "conservative."

The budget, which includes money to resurface a portion of the fairgrounds and repair an aging electrical system, is slightly larger than the 1992 budget. It was approved by the Orange County Fair Board and the state Division of Fairs and Expositions over the past two months.

Modest cuts were made in the number of temporary employees hired as well as in the maintenance, publicity and attendance-operations departments. However, there are no plans to raise the price of fair admission next year.

"Based on the current condition of the economy and the fiscal crisis of the state, we felt that it was best to scale back our budget" as much as possible, said Norm Bartosik, general manager for the fair.

One chunk of the budget--$730,000--is devoted to capital improvements. About $430,000 of that will go toward a variety of renovation projects, including a major painting and reroofing job at two of the three main exhibit halls. Another $300,000 will be spent to upgrade old electrical wires and install more efficient lighting fixtures.

Capital improvement spending is down significantly from 1992, when the fair board allocated $1.8 million to make improvements in time for the fair's centennial celebration.

The fairgrounds took in $13 million in revenue this year--half from the annual county fair itself and half from other events, such as the Orange County Marketplace swap meet.

A record 685,240 people attended the monthlong fair in 1992.

Orange County boasts of one of California's only self-supporting county fairs. Any profits go back into the fair's coffers. The Orange County Fair does receive some support from the state. Usually, that allocation is about $150,000 a year. But with the state budget crisis, officials expect to receive only $18,000 next year.

"We are still watching expenses," Fair Board President Don Willet said in a statement. "At the same time, we (still want to) produce a quality, affordable family entertainment package."

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