As most state agencies prepare for a round of painful budget cuts, the Kentucky Horse Park could see more state money this year. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the Horse Park is slated to receive an increase of $3.5 million dollars this fiscal year, along with an extra $1.6 million dollars each year for the next two years - dollars state officials say are needed to cover operational shortfalls caused by utility costs incurred during the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
State House Budget Committee chairman Rich Rand said Wednesday he's "concerned" about the additional dollars and wants to see the park's long-term business plan. Horse Park executive director John Nicholson says the park is exploring ways to become more self-sufficient.
"The park makes 70 percent approximately of what it takes to operate the park and we would like to make that increasingly higher and higher with the goal of becoming totally self-sustaining in the years ahead, and there's a model to do that," Nicholson said.
That model could include a privately-leased hotel on the park grounds. Nicholson says the tourist destination remains a revenue generator for the state, contributing 17 to 18 million dollars annually to the General Fund. The recession has taken a toll on the Horse Park's bottom line since 2008, but Nicholson says the park is rebounding.