State Fair finance director resigns, fears NSF bankruptcy

Published: Nov. 22, 2019 at 12:29 PM CST
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At the Nebraska State Fair Board meeting, Nebraska State Fair Chief of Finance Patrick Kopke Friday resigned his position.

Kopke said they are one year away from bankruptcy if they are to continue spending as they did in 2019. Kopke said he brought up concerns about not being able to control the executive spending to members of the board but nothing happened. He also says the board has not consulted him enough regarding finances.

With all bills tallied in October, the results of the 2019 fair are in. What they found is they spent more than $2 million more compared to last year and the revenue they expected just wasn't there.

“In my personal opinion, the fact that we are failing financially means that we have not only failed the state of Nebraska but also the people of Grand Island,” Kopke said.

Jeremy Jensen joined the board about nine months ago on the financial committee and said there were mistakes made say they budgeted for way more than revenue brought it.

“The 2019 budget from start to finish was flawed beyond all belief,” Jensen said.

The board talked about projects that were completed without board permission and the need for communication and for the 2020 budget they have greatly reduced their revenue expectations. Jensen went on to say there has been too much finger pointing of who is to blame for the financial issues.

“I would tell any employee or board member that doesn't want to work for the better of this organization to leave, either resign or go find another job,”Jensen said.

After Executive Director Lori cox went over her budget proposal, the board voted to pass it with only one vote against it. Board members stated Kopke was incorrect in his conclusion of bankruptcy.

chris kircher, chairman

“He's certainly able to have his own opinion but I think that he's wrong. In fact, the fact we passed a budget today that we feel good about, that our executive director feels good about, that will accomplish the very thing against what he feels might happen,” Board Chairman Chris Kircher said.

Some changes will be there won't be as big of bands brought to the fair if the indoor venue is to continue. Jensen said he will not let the State Fair in Grand Island tank and believes with a proper budget they can get back to earning money instead of losing it.