At a time when Iowa State Troopers and court officers are forced to take unpaid furloughs to save money, leaving citizens without those services, Iowa taxpayers will have to make payments on an indoor waterpark, 18-hole golf course and the other amenities at Iowa’s government-owned Honey Creek “luxury resort” for at least the next five years. So said representatives of the state’s Department of Natural Resources to Iowa lawmakers on Wednesday, according to a recent Des Moines Register article.
In 2006 the state issued $33.5 million in bonds (borrowed $33.5 million) to partially pay for the new $58 million resort. According to the Register article, the state planned to pay back that debt with revenues from the resort itself. Unfortunately, revenues have been much less than planned. In it’s first ten months of operation the resort lost $1.7 million.
Projections through 2014 show that Iowa taxpayers will be on the hook for $700,000 to $900,000 a year to cover the resort’s bond payments. (That could fund the yearly salaries of about 15 Troopers, by the way.) Since government officials tend to present the rosiest scenarios possible, the actual yearly amount borne by taxpayers actually may be much higher.
Let’s keep this example in mind the next time we hear a politician saying that any government project (such as healthcare “reform”) will “pay for itself.”