Sattgast closes checkbook on fair

Sattgast closes checkbook on fair State Auditor Rich Sattgast has announced that until further notice, payments will be halted for bills incurred on the part of the South Dakota State Fair.

"This isn't a part of the job that I relish; however, without a means at hand to resolve the negative balance, I cannot, under state law, write checks for the state fair with red ink," Sattgast said. "This turn of events is unfortunate, but I will be working closely with Secretary (of Agriculture Larry) Gabriel and the Department of Agriculture to alleviate this situation as quickly as possible. "Currently we have several vendors waiting for payment, but for the time being, the State Fair's checkbook is closed as a result of cost overruns," he said.

State law allows a state entity to run into a temporary deficit situation on accounts with a valid explanation of anticipated incoming receipts, which the Department of Agriculture acted on prior to this year's state fair.

"Now that the receipts are totaled, and bills are being paid, it's clear that the cash available to cover prior deficit spending is not there as anticipated," said Sattgast, "and the incoming money falls significantly short of what is needed.

"In other words, they started in the hole, but felt they'd make enough to get out of it, and they didn't. In fact, they've just sunk deeper," he said.

Sattgasst said the short term solution will be to work with Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Finance and Management to determine if funds are available to shift from other sources.

"The bills are going to be paid. We'll do it as fast as we can and it will be in accordance with state law," he said. "The last thing I want to do is to put one of our state fair partners in a pinch.

"Ultimately, I anticipate this will require the Department of Agriculture to go to the Legislature with a request for an appropriation to cover this year's state fair debt, and to plan for next year," Sattgast said. "I want people to understand that I too will work with the legislature to resolve this problem. I have no doubt that I'll be pulling my camper to the state fair in 2004."

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