Somerset to apply for $1 million in sports tourism funds | news


Citizens got a glimpse Monday night into a possible future project for the City of Somerset when council members were asked to authorize officials to seek state funding for sports tourism.

Councilors approved the resolution in which city officials say they will apply for up to $1 million in tourism funds provided for through Kentucky Legislature’s House Bill 1 (HB 1).

The bill, passed in the most recent legislative session, included the $1 million for Somerset’s Parks and Recreation department as a community development project.

The bill says the money would be “for upgrades to youth sports facilities.”

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck thanked Somerset Senator Rick Girdler for getting it into the budget. “Sen. Girdler’s got a long history of family that’s played sports. His kids, and now grandkids, are very active in this community and we’re grateful for him seeing the vision.”

Keck wouldn’t say, however, what his potential plans are, saying only that they were just getting started.

He stated that there would be a meeting in two weeks with a Florida firm that would help with a feasibility study into what would be possible in this area.

“At that point, we’ll engage you all at a higher level, and the community at a higher level, to see within those confines and those railways what they think is fiscally responsible long-term. How big can we swing for?” Keck said.

As for some of the city’s other finances, the council heard a first reading on an amendment to its current budget which would increase the city’s General Fund’s revenues and expenses from $25.9 million to $33.5 million, SomerSplash’s budget from $1.99 million to $4.23 million, the Fuel Center’s budget from $1.14 million to $1.34 million and the Virginia’s budget – a brand new line item – from zero dollars to $250,200.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Broyles said one of the reasons for the water park’s jump was due to having bonds that were prorate and couldn’t be refunded before the start of the year.

The city had $1.3 million of old bonds that had to be paid off, and when they put the budget together last May and June they didn’t know what the bonds were going to sell for, Broyles said.

Keck added, “It’s a complicated accounting issue. Most of that’s not real dollars, it’s money-in-money-out that you’ve got to account for on both sides.”

A second reading of the amendment will take place at the next council meeting, to be held on June 27.

Also at Monday’s meeting, councilors approved a zone change for a piece of property recently purchased by Horse Soldier Farms. The property adjoins land the company already bought to house its future distillery operation, and it was rezoned from a Residential-1 property to a PUD (Planned Unit Development).

Council members also heard a first reading for two zone changes. One was for 311 Park Avenue, which was proposed to be changed from a Business-2 to a Residential-3 (multi-unit family dwelling) zone.

The second is for undeveloped property on Ky. 914, which was purchased to build a new UK Extension office. The property will be rezoned from a Residential-1 to a Business-2 property.

A second reading and vote on those two items will take place at a later date.

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