05/01/2006 11:00PM

Ky. tracks still liable for fee

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Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher has vetoed language in the state budget that would have banned the state from assessing a daily fee on Kentucky racetracks to provide for regulation of the racing industry.

The fees, which require Thoroughbred racetracks to pay the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority $3,500 per live racing day, were prohibited in the budget largely on the advice of a state auditor, who claimed that the state had questionable legal authority to assess the fees. Annually, the fees on racetracks provide approximately $1.2 million of the authority's $3 million budget.

The language "would have taken about 40 percent of the funding from the racing authority, and that was just unacceptable," said Brett Hall, the communications director for Fletcher.

This year's budget replaced the funding from the racetrack fees with a $1.2 million allocation from the state's general fund, and that allocation was kept intact in the budget. So the state may have two sources of funding for the authority when the fiscal year begins on July 1.

Bob Elliston, the president of Turfway Park, said that racetracks were disappointed that the fees will continue to be assessed, but he said the governor's office has pledged to work with racetracks prior to next year's legislative session to work out a "long-term solution that is agreeable to everyone" for the 2007 fiscal year.