Projects Financed With Star Bonds Not Meeting Tourism Goals

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Only three of 16 projects financed with STAR bonds are meeting requirements for bringing visitors and spending to Kansas, and it could still take decades for them to return the tax revenue diverted for the bonds, according to a new state audit.

Sales Tax and Revenue Bonds allow municipalities to issue bonds for developments, which are then supposed to pay off the bonds through sales tax revenue generated by bringing in tourists from other states to visit.

The three businesses that met the goals are the Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and the Hutchinson Underground Salt Museum, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The audit found, for example, that the Hutchinson project could take until 2132 to recoup sales tax revenue diverted to support its development. The other two projects could make back lost tax revenues sooner, but it could still take decades, auditors said.

The Department of Commerce said the data used for the report was not an effective way of determining how many people visit a development. The agency also said the developments have other positive impacts on the economy and community development.