Kentucky bond panel formally seeks auditor's review of Louisvill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky bond panel formally seeks auditor's review of Louisville Arena Authority

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Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – A legislative panel has formally asked Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon to scrutinize the Louisville Arena Authority’s finances amid ongoing concerns about the KFC Yum! Center’s debt.

The state’s Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee voted to approve the request at a meeting on Tuesday and sent a letter to Harmon’s office Wednesday morning.

“The arena’s construction represented a major capital investment by the people of the Commonwealth,” committee co-chairs Sen. Humphries and Rep. Chris Harris wrote. “Accordingly, it is incumbent upon this committee to ensure that public funds are used wisely and that the arena continues to yield benefits to the community and the state for years to come.”

Their request seeks a special examination, and possibly an audit, of arena authority’s finances. The authority, a public agency appointed by Kentucky’s governor and Louisville’s mayor, is responsible for paying off $349 million in bonds issued to build the downtown Louisville arena that opened in 2010.

The authority hasn’t missed a debt payment, but in recent years it has had just enough money to do so. And with those payments set to rise steadily, arena authority chairman Scott C. Cox said this week that the board is considering ways to improve the arena’s financial footing, including possibly extending a tax increment financing district that taps sales and property taxes near the building to pay off debt.

The bond oversight panel also is asking that Harmon conduct a special examination of the arena authority’s relationship with the University of Louisville’s athletic association. U of L’s basketball teams are the arena’s main tenants under a lease assailed by critics and some lawmakers as overly generous.

Harmon’s office had not received the committee’s letter as of mid-morning Wednesday, spokesman Michael Goins said.

“Once we receive the letter we’ll review, and we’ll determine what is the best step forward to take on this,” he said.

DOCUMENT: Draft version of Capital Projects and Bond Oversight letter

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