Press-Republican

July 10, 2013

Essex County gets tough on horse boarders

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers have decided anyone who owes horse boarding fees to the county as of July 15 cannot race horses at the County Fair.

At a recent County Board of Supervisors session, Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport) said one person who is boarding race horses at the county horse barns hasn’t paid about $3,000 in stall rents.

The rent covers 10 horses being housed in fair horse barns by that one person for six different owners, Connell said.

“That individual paid once that I know of, and maybe a little one other time. Everyone else with horses down there is paid off.”

The name of the person boarding the horses was not released due to privacy concerns, but Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) suggested the tenant be evicted by the county.

“Why don’t we begin legal action?” Scozzafava said. “Tell him ‘get your horses out of our barn.’”

The county owns the fairgrounds and barns in Westport, and leases them to the Essex County Agricultural Association for the annual County Fair.

County Attorney Daniel Manning III said the problem is they can’t lock the barn doors or turn off water and electricity, because that would negatively impact the horses.

“We can evict him, mathematically.”

Manning said they started the eviction process before and the individual paid his bill, which was then $12,000.

But now the stall rents have accumulated again, and barring the horses in his care from being raced may be the only solution, Connell said.

The resolution will get them their money, Connell said.

“You pay your money or your horses don’t race; you don’t race, you’re done.”

The Board of Supervisors voted 17 to 1 that no horse shall be permitted to race whose owner or trainer owes the county money. Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) was the only one opposed. Hatch said the issue should be handled another way.

“If you don’t want this to continue, this is what we have to do,” Connell said.

He said the person boarding the horses will be notified of the deadline to pay up.

“This is huge if they can’t race at the fair, because these are New York-bred (thoroughbred) horses that are racing for up to $1,500 and $2,000 (purses) per race.”

Sanctioned harness races are held several days during the fair, which is July 31 through Aug. 4 this year.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com