Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

State Audit: Wisconsin State Fair Park


The required annual audit of the Wisconsin State Fair Park has been completed by the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) and it shows continued financial struggles at the Park.

As of June 30, 2008, the LAB found State Fair Park’s accumulated cash deficit was $8.6 million.

One of the key areas of financial concern is State Fair Park’s racetrack, the Milwaukee Mile.

During February 2009, State Fair Park ended its license agreement with Milwaukee Mile Holdings that it had since January 2006. A new agreement was entered into with Wisconsin Motorsports. The state Department of Justice intends to file a lawsuit on behalf of State Fair Park to recover at least $2.7 million in license fees, as required by the terms of the license agreement with Milwaukee Mile Holdings. 

State Fair Park entered into a new agreement with Wisconsin Motorsports in order to continue racing during 2009. The agreement stipulates a fixed license fee of $15,000 per month, or $180,000 per year. The fee is far less than the annual license fee of $1.0 million that was required
under the most recent agreement with Milwaukee Mile Holdings.

The LAB writes, “State Fair Park will continue to incur significant costs. We estimate State Fair Park will be responsible for $1.8 million in Milwaukee Mile costs in 2009, less license fees it collects from the new promoter. Past promoters have had difficulty in operating the racetrack profitably. State Fair Park anticipates the new promoter will incur an operating loss in 2009, raising questions about the viability of racing at the Milwaukee Mile racetrack.”

The LAB also uncovered that, “Interest earnings on proceeds from the sale of the Pettit Center have been less than the amounts expected, which may create an additional liability for State Fair Park starting in Fiscal Year 2012-13.”

The Wisconsin Exposition center continues to have problems. The LAB writes, “The future financial stability of the Wisconsin Exposition Center warrants close attention. The Exposition Center has accumulated a deficit of $3.0 million through calendar year 2007. Based on unaudited data, the deficit increased to $4.3 million as of December 31, 2008.”

The LAB also examined conflict of interest concerns that it wrote about in the 2008 audit of State Fair Park. New policies are in effect for agricultural competitions, rules, and selection of judges. The Agriculture Director of State Fair Park may not own any animal showing at the Wisconsin State Fair, may not reference the State Fair when selling any cattle or the embryos and progeny of cattle, and may not conduct outside consulting related to the fair. Anyone purchasing cattle
presentation and preparation services from the Agriculture Director’s business is prohibited from showing animals at the Fair.

The LAB recommends the State Fair Park continue to review its rules and policies for competitions and the criteria for selecting judges, develop a process to examine Wisconsin Motorsports’ financial data and report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by March 1, 2010, on how to address the revenue shortfall from changing racetrack promoters, and report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by March 1, 2010, on its financial relationship with the Pettit Center and the Wisconsin Exposition Center.

I commend the LAB for another outstanding review. You can see the full audit report

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