A few weeks ago, Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill that authorized the state of Iowa to pay off the bond debt of Honey Creek Resort in Moravia.
The resort has been making money and has been paying for its ongoing expenses, however, it never made enough money to pay the bonds due twice a year. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has had to find and designate funds intended for conservation projects to make the payments.
With the state treasury now in charge of paying the debt, money will be put into an account, which will earn interest until there's enough to pay the bonds in 2016. After that time, Honey Creek will be entirely debt-free.
The Iowa DNR said the main mission of Honey Creek is to get people outside, and the organization is pleased with the business Honey Creek has generated thus far. Reservations are booked in the summer and are starting to see more traffic in the winter, and the DNR hopes the resort will continue to see success.
"We're the greenest resort in the state of Iowa and maybe even the Midwest," said Chuck Corell, Division Administrator with the Iowa DNR. "We have a very complete recycling program, we buy green products for the rooms - the soaps and shampoos and those kinds of things. We're doing our best to lead by example with how to live a green life."
Once the bond debt is paid off, Honey Creek will enter a concession-style contract, which means the more revenue the resort generates, the bigger the paycheck for those running it. That type of contract also encourages bringing in private capitol to work on separate projects, such as a spa or outdoor pool, that will raise the resort's worth and ensure it is operating optimally.
Corell said the situation is a win-win, as now the DNR can use the funds previously dedicated to the bond payments for projects like land acquisition and preservation.