Acting through the City of Fort Worth, the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) recently repaid the State of Texas about $361,000. In doing so, it secured the release of about $3.4 million in state funds expected to head its way soon.
For several years, Major Events Trust Fund (METF) money provided by Texas state funding has pumped millions of dollars into supporting all three limited-age “Triple Crown” cutting events – the NCHA Futurity, NCHA Super Stakes and NCHA Summer Spectacular – held annually in Fort Worth. An investigation into suspected overpayments to the NCHA during 2008 and 2009 had delayed much larger payments to support each of the same 2012 shows.
Kirk Slaughter, Fort Worth’s public events director, said city officials sent a check for “a little over $361,000,” provided by the NCHA, back to the state. They did so after an investigation concluded faulty economic impact statements filed by a consultant working for the city and for the NCHA had led to the unintentional overpayments.
“I think everybody is glad that it has been looked into, it has been resolved, and we can move forward,” Slaughter said.
The NCHA had expected to receive more than $3 million this year and last year. Those funds, tied to the NCHA’s 2012 economic impact on Fort Worth and Texas, had been held up during the investigation. That money is presently going through state audits, and will funnel through the City of Fort Worth and end up with the NCHA, Slaughter said.
Jim Bret Campbell, who took over June 17 as NCHA executive director, said “about $3.4 million is heading back the NCHA’s way.” He added that a similar amount is expected next year, thanks to recent action in the Texas state legislature that will continue programs aimed at keeping major events within the state.
Created in 2003, the METF program has helped Texas cities retain activities ranging from horse events and conventions to auto races and the 2011 Super Bowl, as long as they could be shown to create significant increases in local tax revenue. Steps have been taken to eliminate errors like ones leading to the NCHA overpayments, and then to more than $3 million in anticipated 2012 funding being delayed.
“The city will now be taking care of applying for those funds,” Campbell said. “The NCHA will continue to provide information and data, but the city will actually make the application. They have told us that they will be doing independent audits, too, to make sure we are providing the very best information we possibly can.”
State and city officials agree, Campbell said, support that keeps NCHA events in Fort Worth and Texas supports their goals, too. “It is agreed that we do have an economic impact on the city and the state by bringing people in from all over the world.”