Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 21, 2014

House Subcommittee Hearing on Raceway Monday

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — A House Ways and Means subcommittee will hold a hearing regarding a proposed sales tax rebate, worth up to $2 million, for the Knoxville Raceway on Monday, March 24.

Rep. Guy VanderLinden chairs the subcommittee. Though there are no guarantees with any legislation, VanderLinden is confident that the rebate has the support of the subcommittee. If it passes during Monday's meeting, it should go to the full House Ways and Means Committee next week. 

Monday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in the Lobby Lounge of the House. At the hearing, the subcommittee will hear testimony regarding the rebate, if any. 

Rep. Greg Heartsill had originally proposed the bill. Changes are made and it is now HSB 678. Heartsill believes many in the House recognize the economic impact the Knoxville Raceway has on the region and state. 

"We're feeling pretty confident about the bill," Heartsill said. 

The rebate would accompany an investment by the Marion County Fair Association of between $4-6 million into a new building, as well as other upgrades, at the raceway. Knoxville Raceway General Manager Brian Stickel said that the improvements at the track are still moving forward. If the board does not receive the rebate, the project will continue to move forward, but the timeline to get it done will take longer. Stickel said the sales tax rebate is a key component and would provide a "boost" to the project, but the plans are not contingent upon any incentives.

Knoxville Raceway paid $198,908 in sales tax in fiscal year 2011 (numbers in years 2008-10 are similar to that), $210,689 in FY12 and $195,803 in FY13. Those figures are just sales tax, and do not include other taxes the nonprofit organization has paid into the state for the same time period. 

The Newton Daily News reported yesterday that legislation to alter a similar agreement for Iowa Speedway has moved on to the full House Ways and Means Committee. Iowa Speedway was purchased in November 2013 by NASCAR. An incentive package approved the Legislature in the past included a stipulation that the incentive was contingent upon ownership by an Iowan.