Thursday, April 10, 2003

Ky. to open six new courses

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Calling it a "smart business decision," Gov. Paul Patton said Wednesday the state will sell bonds to complete six new golf courses and open them this summer.

Rather than allow the courses to sit dormant, the state has opted instead to spend about $4.5 million to get them up and running and start making money on them, Patton said.

If the state were to let the courses sit unused, it would still cost about $1 million a year for basic maintenance with no return on its more than $28 million investment, Patton said.

Officials hope to open the courses by July 1.

The General Assembly did not earmark money in the state budget for the courses, but authorized Tourism Development Secretary Ann Latta to float a bond issue to pay for the work. Latta, who stood alongside Patton at a Wednesday news conference, said the agency commissioned a cost-benefit analysis that found it made financial sense to open the courses this year.

Money already in the department's maintenance budget would pay debt service on the bonds, Latta said. The revenue the courses generate would then pay for maintenance.

Latta said the state estimates the courses could bring in $2 million a year.

While the $4.5 million would get the courses ready for play, it would not complete them. The state would still need an additional $12.8 million to finish them, Latta said.

The courses were already on schedule to be playable this summer, Latta said. However, they would not have had parking lots, golf carts, pro shops or other infrastructure needed to open them, she said.

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