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Arizona government could force Yavapai closure

May 20, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

A new interpretation of property tax law by the Yavapai County Assessor’s office has put Yavapai Downs on the brink of closure.

It all started last year when the non-profit Yavapai County Fair Association transferred the track and related facilities to the new non-profit Yavapai County Farm & Agriculture Association in an effort to secure a low-interest U.S. Department of Agriculture loan in order to pay off a higher-interest bank loan.

The Yavapai County Assessor's Office reviewed the property transfer and decided that Yavapai Downs was no longer eligible for the property tax break, increasing its property tax from roughly $30,000 per year to around $350,000 per year.

Representative Andy Tobin (R-Paulden) helped pass a bill through the Arizona legislature to change the track’s “status for property tax purposes” back to non-profit, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

Now, the Yavapai County Farm & Agriculture Association Board of Directors has voted late Thursday to close Yavapai Downs. The Board also voted to stay the decision for 24 hours as Board Chairman Jeff Wasowicz and Arizona HBPA President Gary Miller work the back-channels to try to save racing in Prescott Valley.

The track is scheduled to open on Saturday, May 28, for a 56-day season. The track typically employs about 300 people during its race meet. That number does not even include the jobs on the back side that arrive with the horses, for example the trainers, jockeys, farriers, and veterinarians.