Public a no-show at public hearing on Kentucky Kingdom - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Public a no-show at public hearing on Kentucky Kingdom

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was supposed to be a public hearing to get people's opinion on tourism tax credits that businessman Ed Hart's group is seeking in order to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.

But no one showed up at the hearing at 10 a.m. Friday at the offices of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet in downtown Frankfort.

Not to worry though.

The hearing is mostly just a legal formality that should not have any impact on the outcome of whether Hart and his business partners get the tax credits.

"The hearing has no effect as far as positive or negative," said Cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson. "It is taken into consideration along with a study that is done."

An economic impact study is currently underway by a private consultant, but is being paid for by Hart and his partners. The study is required by state law before the developers of Kentucky Kingdom can get final approval for state tax incentives.

They have already received preliminary approval pending the outcome of the study.

Hart's group is seeking $10 million in sales tax credits over 10 years.

"The study is near completion," explained Lawson, "and the authority will look at that and hear a presentation on the study and then make its decision on whether to approve incentives."

That decision is expected to come on April 10.

If the state approves, Hart and his partners would then be able to proceed with plans to borrow $25 million in private financing.

The city of Louisville is also providing tax incentives. It will allow rebates on occupational taxes generated by the park.

The Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Corporation, heading by Hart, says it needs the state and local tax incentives to help it pay back the bank loans.

Hart has recently said the park is in worse shape than originally thought, something alluded to last month after he and his senior management team surveyed the damage from more than three seasons of neglect.

On February 12 Hart said, "There has been a great deal of additional deterioration, but we factored that into our budget."

Hart still believes the park can reopen in May 2014.

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