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Debating LA County Fair Association’s tax-exempt status, CEO compensation

A photo taken of the Los Angeles County Fair.
Omar Bárcena via Flickr
A photo taken of the Los Angeles County Fair.

Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors says it plans to audit the Los Angeles County Fair Association.

Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors says it plans to audit the Los Angeles County Fair Association in response to an L.A. Times piece that says the organization is hemorrhaging money but still paying its top brass a pretty penny.

The Times investigation found that the L.A. County Fair Association, which is classified as a nonprofit and has tax-exempt status, pays its CEO nearly $900,000 a year and compensates other high-level employees well, too. It also found that from 2010-2013, the association lost more than $6.2 million while bonuses that the CEO and other top brass collected neared $3 million.

The Board of Supervisors audit will also examine and look to restructure the terms of the lease that gives the association control of the publicly-owned fairgrounds in Pomona. A spokeswoman for the L.A. County Fair association says they’re audited by the county every year and are open to it as well as the lease renegotiation talks.

Residents of the area surrounding the Fairplex are frustrated that the taxpayer-funded fairgrounds are being used for things like raves and other events they say are disruptive.

Supporters of the audit also say that because it doesn’t pay taxes, the association is taking money from local schools and the city of Pomona.

Should the Los Angeles County Fair Association be considered a nonprofit in the first place? What about the salaries of the CEO and other top brass?

Guests:

Michael O'Hare, a UC Berkeley public-policy professor who has studied the economics and management of fairs

Deanna Marquart, a Sacramento-based public policy analyst who’s studied county fairs

Jim Tucker, President and CEO, International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE)

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