Senate Will Consider Bill to Restructure Kentucky Horse Park Commission

Feb 24, 2016

Left to right: Jamie Link-Kentucky Horse Park Director, Senator Damon Thayer, Roy Cornett-General Manager of Festival of the Bluegrass
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    

Legislation calling for restructuring of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission is headed to the full senate.  It’s a measure brought by the Senate majority floor leader.

Floor Leader Damon Thayer says he’s been looking into issues at the Kentucky Horse Park for over a year.  Thayer says pricing for events and campground policies need review.  His bill would reduce the horse park commission from 17 to 9 members.  Thayer says he doesn’t favor cutting all state funding for the horse park.  “It’s a fine line to balance between the taxpayers who are subsidizing the park and those who want to use the park,” he said.

The Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee heard from Horse Park Executive Director Jamie Link.  Afterwards, Link said there’s been interest in Frankfort to see the horse park become more financially self-sustaining. “If you’re going to reduce state general funds and operate the park at a peak level, you have to make up that revenue somehow and the only way I know to do that is to adjust rates, but adjust them appropriately,” explained Link.

Also testifying on the bill was Roy Cornett with the Festival of the Bluegrass.  The bluegrass music event has been held at the horse park since 1990.  Cornett says horse park officials were very attentive to them during last June’s festival.  “The entire process, not that it was ever bad before, but last year was so much more smooth, so much more professional than any we’d ever had before,” said Cornett.

Thayer’s measure also calls for a performance audit of the horse park.  Lexington Senator Reggie Thomas voted no on the bill, saying he thought the audit should be done first, before any consideration of changes at the park.​