Since I began raising the issue of the county-owned-and-operated horse farm and banquet hall, many people have asked me, “What horse farm?” and “What banquet hall?”
For the last three years the county has owned and operated a horse farm, where they rent horses to people who want to ride, as well as a banquet hall. Both of these activities compete with private providers of these services. The private providers are paying taxes to support their competition. Both of these activities have incurred significant losses for each of the three years they have been operating. The horse farm also exposes the taxpayers to serious liability, should anyone be injured while riding a county-owned horse.
The best solution to this situation is for the county to lease these facilities to private operators. This would eliminate the problem of the taxpayers absorbing operating losses and would provide insulation from liability. The next-best solution for the horse farm is to cease horse rentals and allow riders to bring their own horses or rent them from a private vendor.
One of the Board members defends the losses from the horse operations, saying that we can’t expect to make money on everything the county does. The problem is that if something generates large operating losses and at the same time exposes us to serious liability, it drains funds from other county services. We taxpayers get to make up the difference!