By Lynn Gallagher
The county supervisors were presented on Nov. 15, 2018 with a petition signed by 375 Johnson County residents requesting that the county stop giving public funding to the Johnson County Agricultural Association unless they eliminate the kids’ rodeo. You can see my comments at the beginning of the meeting here.
The supervisors will initiate discussion of block grants at their Jan. 7 meeting from 10 a.m.-2:45 p.m. A block grant is the way taxpayer money is given to the Johnson County Ag Association.
This Ag Association is a nonprofit given a charitable exemption, so they pay no property taxes. They already get that tax break, and yet they ask for more taxpayer money every year. In 2018, they received $103,000.
I don’t think the public at large understands this situation, but more people are learning about it. Most people were not aware that a kids’ rodeo was part of the fair.
To give you an idea of the events that our taxes indirectly fund, please watch the beginning of this video that shows junior bull riding and mutton busting, and then jump to minute three to watch some of the goat tying. These are all events that are part of the kids’ (family) rodeo at the Johnson County Fair.
The animals are terrified and subjected to physical and emotional abuse. I believe that children should be taught to have respect and compassion for animals.
People are becoming more aware of the need for improvements in animal welfare. Iowa City recently passed some ordinances that improve protection for companion animals. They also passed a law banning the use of wild animals in traveling shows. The county needs to follow their lead. If you agree, please consider contacting the supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling them at 319-356-6000, or consider coming to the meeting on Jan. 7, or to a subsequent meeting. You can make a public comment and address the board in person.