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Premium check delay worked out

Mona Hill
Staff Writer
10/5/2011

It was all about fair entries for the bulk of the Plumas-Sierra County Fair board meeting Wednesday, Sept. 28. Plumas County Auditor Shawn Montgomery was on the agenda to address W9s, among other things.

In addition, Norma Wood spoke on behalf of ALIVE participants during public comment. ALIVE is a program of Plumas Rural Services for adults with developmental disabilities and special needs.

Wood took the board to task about the delayed premium checks. She said it had been difficult to encourage entries into the photographic competition and winners had been eagerly anticipating their premium checks.

In the past, premium checks for ribbon winners were usually ready for pickup at the fair office at the same time exhibits closed. This year, for the first time, W9s were required with the exhibit entry form.

Montgomery addressed the board following the close of public comment and explained the reason for the W9s and for the delayed premium checks.

The Internal Revenue Service form is required for miscellaneous income. When more than $600 comes from a single source, in this case Plumas County, the payor issues a 1099.

Following the 2010 fair, Montgomery noticed a few large premium checks nearing $400. At that point, she became concerned about the county’s ability to report 1099 income accurately to the IRS. In accordance with IRS policy, she asked that the W9 form be included with the exhibit entry form.

Miscommunication between the auditor’s office and the fair office about who would cut the premium checks meant no checks were ready by the end of the fair. Fair staff had understood that the auditor’s office would issue all premium checks. The auditor’s office only intended to issue checks for amounts over $10.

After about an hour’s lively discussion, Montgomery and fair directors agreed to collect W9s for premium awards exceeding $300. In addition, the auditor’s office would issue any premium checks over the $300 limit. No 2011 fair exhibitors received more than $300.

All outstanding premium checks are expected to be mailed by the end of this week.

 

Budget finalized

Montgomery was also on hand to explain delays in county payments to fair suppliers.

A combination of factors led to late payments. The county budget process this year meant that proposed budgets were frozen.

Fair manager John Steffanic told the board he’d had his tentative budget ready to submit early in the process, but Chief Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad instructed him and other non-general fund department heads to wait. He also mentioned that he’d attended Montgomery’s “how to do a budget” class earlier in the year.

According to Steffanic and Supervisor Jon Kennedy, Ingstad did not use Steffanic’s budget. Saying he would enter it himself, Ingstad cut the amount available in professional services below the fair’s obligations.

If the money available in a particular line item account, in this case professional services, is insufficient, without an adopted budget the auditor cannot transfer money from another line item account to permit payment.

In response to questions from fair directors about who was responsible and how to avoid the problem in the future, Kennedy said, “Jack Ingstad is responsible because he was plugging in arbitrary dollar amounts without careful thought to achieve a tentative budget,” and pledged to ensure that did not happen again.

Montgomery also suggested the county could adopt a budget July 1 and refine it later. She said that would allow her to process her accounts payable.

***

In other business, directors voted to discontinue boarding animals on the fairgrounds.

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