The1st meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Thursday, August 28, 2008, at 10:30 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative John A. Arnold Jr., Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests:† Tom Dorman, Bert May and Karen Keown.
LRC Staff:† Jeff Hancock, Perry Papka, and Christina Lee.
Chairman Arnold called the meeting to order at 10:41 A.M. He welcomed guests and introduced Ms. Marcheta Sparrow, Secretary of the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet.
Secretary Sparrow thanked the committee and called attention to the Cabinet being renamed due to reorganization. She then began her presentation on Cabinet initiatives.
Representative Clark asked if showcasing Kentuckyís Wineries is going to be a priority in the cabinetís efforts to try and attract tourists and further the growth of the economy within the Cabinet and State of Kentucky.
Secretary Sparrow stated the Cabinet is in the process of showcasing the wineries and will continue to further that venue of tourism.
Representative Clark asked if the Kentuckyís Wineries are featured on the Cabinetís website. She stated that they were indeed.
Senator Harris asked what the status was of the hotel that was supposed to be constructed at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Secretary Sparrow stated the building of the hotel has been postponed because of economic reasons until after the 2010 Alltech Equestrian Games.
Senator Harris asked if Kentucky is going to be able to house all of the expected tourists for the games and if so what the course of action is for housing all of the visitors.
Secretary Sparrow stated she believed that there are already adequate accommodations to be able to house the visitors. She further indicated that between Northern Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington that Kentucky should be in great shape for housing the event and that it should run quite smoothly.
Senator Harris complemented Secretary Sparrow on the meals that he has experienced and several state parks. He also asked Secretary Sparrow if she would introduce her staff that had accompanied her to the meeting.
Secretary Sparrow introduced Mike Cooper, Commissioner of State Travel, State Travel Director; Lindy Casabier, Deputy Secretary for Arts and Heritage; Jerry van der Meer, Parks Commissioner, Larry Totton, Deputy Commissioner; Ladonna Miller, Marketing Director for Parks; Barbara Atwood, Senior Staff Advisor; Matt Osborne, Adventure Tourism Director; David Lovelace, Head of Governmental Affairs; Tim Pollard, Chief Fiscal Officer; Darrin Moore, Fish and Wild Life; Bill Dexter?, General Counsel; Todd Cassidy, Tourism Development and Gil Lawson, Public Information Officer for Cabinet. Secretary Sparrow stated she was proud of all of her employees and that they do an excellent job.
Representative Webb indicated that she was for Kentucky Recreational trails. She stated that with proper communication and education between all areas including the public and agencies that endorsing the recreational trails will have a positive impact on the Cabinet and Kentucky. She further indicated that she does not fear for the success of the program or the agency.
Chairman Arnold asked Secretary Sparrow for the number of occupancies in Kentucky State Parks.
Secretary Sparrow stated the occupancy in the parks is up 4.6% from 2007 but that she does not have an exact number present with her.
Chairman Arnold asked how many rooms there are total in all of Kentucky Parks.
Secretary Sparrow answered that there are approximately 861 rooms.
Chairman Arnold asked how many of those rooms were filled in 2007.
Secretary Sparrow answered approximately 80% of the rooms were filled.
Chairman Arnold asked what was being done to attract visitors to the parks during the off season.
Secretary Sparrow indicated that the coupons on the website and that were handed out at the state fair were for September thru December which is an off season for the Kentucky Parks. She further indicated that a reason for the coupons was to attract off season visitors.
Representative Keene asked how a $50 per night stay was the agreed upon amount that the coupon noted.
Secretary Sparrow stated that it was just enough to compensate for upkeep costs of the rooms and to allow the guests to stay comfortably and to benefit Kentucky Parks.
Representative Webb asked about the function of the Kentucky Sports Authority.
Secretary Sparrow stated the Kentucky Sports Authority is involved with recruiting and attracting different sporting events to occur throughout the state.
Representative Web asked if the Kentucky Sports Authority could appear before the committee at a future meeting.
Chairman Arnold agreed to have them appear.
Chairman Arnold adjourned the meeting at 11:25 A.M.