ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission did not violate the law when it bought land with public funds that had been slated for a still-unfinished youth golf complex, the legislative auditor has determined.
At the same time, the auditor's office said the commission did stray beyond a strict reading of the law in how it used money allocated for the purchase and development of athletic fields.
In a report issued Thursday, the auditor examined how the commission spent nearly $4.8 million appropriated by lawmakers, including $3.1 million to build a National Youth Golf Center. The report was designed to settle the dispute, but both the commission and its prime critic assert that the report vindicates their positions.
Rep. Philip Krinkie, R-Shoreview, contends the commission broke the law when it used the golf money to buy a 75-acre sod farm north of the National Sports Center in Blaine, plus $600,000 worth of golf carts and maintenance equipment.
All the money has been spent, but the project is still years away from completion.
Krinkie says legislators intended the $3.1 million only for construction of the golf course on about 300 acres of leased land at the adjacent Anoka County Airport. Other key legislators disagree, saying the sports agency had a broad mandate to use the money.
The auditors said the legality of the land purchase will ultimately depend on whether the commission follows through on its plan to build a nine-hole learning center on the parcel. The course is intended to provide access to the course for underprivileged youths.
Sports commission chairman Tom Duffy said the review confirmed the agency's view that its spending had been "lawful and appropriate." He also said the commission would follow the auditor's recommendations.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.