Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Most of Tour of Missouri Funding Yet to Be Released

Just a third of state tourism funds dedicated to the 2009 Tour of Missouri have been released, a month before the bike race is set to begin, KY3 News has learned.
The state's tourism director said his agency received notice that $500,000 had been released Tuesday. But apparently the state doesn't have the cash flow to immediately provide the remaining $1 million dollars Gov. Jay Nixon promised -- all at once.
"It's authorized to be released, but the state is having a tremendous cash flow problem. The money's just not there," said tourism director Bob Smith.
When asked when he expected to get the remainder of the funds, Smith replied, "I can't answer that, I don't know."
Nixon spokesman Jack Cardetti said the remaining funds "will be released in installments in the coming weeks."
After initially freezing the $1.5 million dollars for the race and facing pressure from cyclist enthusiasts around the country, Nixon decided to ok the money for the cross-state bicycle race in mid-July. On July 14th, Nixon said, "the Office of Budget and Planning will immediately begin to provide state funds for the 2009 Tour of Missouri."
Reached Tuesday afternoon, the event's manager said he was unaware that some of the funding still had not been released.
"I thought we had cleared that hurdle," said Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports who is helping coordinate the Tour. "We respect the Governor's office in doing what it has to do, but it is crucial. The timing of the release is crucial to successfully plan and execute the event," Aronhalt said.
A spokesman for Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, who chairs the state Tourism Commission and heavily lobbied to keep state funding for the race, suggested the money is still being withheld.
"Based upon conversations with the Director of the Division of Tourism, it is our understanding that $1 million in funding for this year’s race is still being withheld. I believe this could present some serious challenges with the start of the race just one month away," said Kinder spokesman Gary McElyea.
Aronhalt said not having the money in hand can at times make it difficult to secure commitments with vendors. He did not say that the lack of funds prohibited agreements from being signed, but noted, "it doesn't make life easy." "Bills need to be paid, that's why cash is needed," Aronhalt said.
On top of the Tour funding, Smith said the Tourism division has yet to receive any of its first quarter funding for the 2010 fiscal year. He said the agency should have received around $5 million dollars shortly after July 1st, the start of the fiscal year.
"I'm sure (The Tour) would like to have it all now. I'd like to have it all now. But it's not there right now," Smith said. "We realize we're going to get the money eventually. We're just cautiously reviewing our invoices right now," he said.
The Tour of Missouri is scheduled to run Sept. 7-13 with circuit races in St. Louis and Kansas City. The nearest Ozarks stop is in Rolla.

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