Future of the Pendleton Round-Up?
A Northwest rodeo tradition is having problems making ends meet.
The Pendleton Round-Up owes tens of thousands of dollars in taxes to the City of Pendleton and Umatilla County, and says it doesn't have enough funds to pay the bill.
Both Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk and the Round-Up President Tim Hawkins say they're not worried about the signature rodeo taking place this year.
But, there is the large tax bill, and nobody is sure exactly how they're going to deal with it.
The rodeo has been around since 1910 and this will be its 103rd year. Residents like Alan Wyler say it'll happen no matter what.
"I love the Round-Up. And it will happen, you bet," said Wyler.
Last year, the Round-Up made more than $3 million, but organizers say the rodeo is expensive and rarely clears $100, 000 in profit.
That money is earmarked for scholarships and charities, leaving no money left over for the tax bill.
Round-up President Tim Hawkins says he'll borrow money before canceling tradition.
"There's no threat of the round up not happening at all," said Hawkins.
Why the tax problem? The Round-Up leased the rodeo grounds from the city in 2009 to use as collateral for a bank loan.
The money was used to renovate the West Grandstand.
Meaning the rodeo has to pay taxes on the land - that's the reason for the shortfall.
"In a perfect world, the Round-Up would love not to pay taxes and that may not be possible," said Hawkins.
In 2012 the rodeo's Umatilla County tax bill was $110, 000. This year, it's expected to be more.
"It's over a $100, 000 for sure and that's really a big number to us," said Hawkins.
On June 18, the Round-Up board will request help from Pendleton City Council.
Mayor Houk says council will listen but he also says, "Does that mean we're going to be able to issue a check? This year I don't see that happening. They're trying to figure out a way to avoid having to come up with the additional revenue.
One thing they do agree on, the need to discuss options.
"There are things that we can work on together to help them into the future to remain strong, and keep this going," said Houk.
"There's always a way to figure something out , so we're going to put our heads together and see what we can do," said Hawkins.
Meanwhile Pendleton residents insist the show will go on.
"Our economy is hugely impacted by the Round-Up and we wouldn't let anything happen to it," said
"It's been here too long - they'll figure it out.
The round-up has appealed to both the county and the state to have the tax bill reduced this year, and they lost both appeals.
Did they say anything about how they plan to make up that money?
The Round-Up has appealed to both the county and the state to have the tax bill reduced this year, and they recently lost both appeals.