Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Ky. Speedway sued over tax-free status

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A group of residents filed suit last week after learning that Kentucky Speedway does not have to pay property taxes.

        The auto racetrack benefits under an economic development incentive built into the bond sale, Marcus Carey, the lawyer who filed the suit, said Monday.

        The suit names Gallatin County Fiscal Court, which issued the bonds in late 1999, and the Speedway as defendants.

        “This is a taxpayers' lawsuit filed on behalf of the taxpayers in Gallatin County,” said Mr. Carey, who operates law offices in Erlanger and Owenton.

        “A lot of people really didn't know that the speedway would not have to pay property taxes for 20 years under this bond issue, and they are upset about it,” he said. “They want the court to declare the bond issue invalid.”

        Mr. Carey argued that industrial-revenue bonds are to be used for industrial projects, not racetracks.

        “People in Gallatin County are thrilled to have the track there,” Mr. Carey said. “It's a wonderful facility with tremendous appeal. But a lot of people are dismayed the track is not paying property taxes.”

        Mark Guilfoyle, a Crestview Hills lawyer whose law firm represents the speedway, said the state law governing industrial-revenue bonds does cover the track.

        “These types of bonds are used all over the state of Kentucky for economic development,” Mr. Guilfoyle said Monday. “It's really curious that the plaintiffs would file a lawsuit to challenge such a common economic development practice.

        “The law permits the bonds to be used for recreation facilities, and if the Kentucky Speedway is not a recreation facility then I'm Darrell Waltrip,” he said, referring to the famed NASCAR driver.

        More than 20 types of facilities and uses for industrial-revenue bonds are listed in the state statute governing how money from the bonds can be spent.


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