The Ottumwa Courier

December 19, 2013

Honey Creek deficit narrows

Courier staff writer

---- — LAKE RATHBUN — The Honey Creek resort destination park continues to run a deficit, though it is lower than in prior years.

Revenues topped expenditures in fiscal 2013 by about $200,000. It received $1.5 million from the state as well.

If income is higher than the expenses, how is the resort running a deficit? The answer lies in the cost of the construction. The resort did not make enough to offset the debt remaining from when it was built.

Bonds financed the construction, and Honey Creek made a payment of $565,000 in fiscal 2013. Cash from the state helps keep the resort functioning. It received $1.47 million last year.

General Manager Andy Woodrick said money “has been set aside” to retire the remaining debt, which should happen within the next few years. Once that happens, the resort’s revenues should be enough to fund it.

“The resort has always had cash flows and has paid its own bills,” Woodrick said, though he did allow that “it will be nice” to have the construction debt paid off.

Revenues topped $6 million on the year. Lodging was the biggest contributor, at $3.3 million. Restaurant and banquet services added another $1.9 million. The restaurant and banquet side of business also cost the most, at about $1.6 million in expenses. Costs for lodging came to under a million.

The resort opened just as the economy dropped off, which added to the early struggles. But Woodrick said Honey Creek is doing well in comparison to similar facilities, outperforming them in terms of operations and in the year-to-year increases.

“We’re happy with the direction the resort is going,” he said.

Honey Creek is operated jointly by the Iowa Department of Revenue and Central Group Management. It is based on 850 acres around Lake Rathbun, land that is owned by the state and federal governments.