A group of Polk County residents is collecting signatures for an advisory referendum on establishing casino gambling at Iowa's Prairie Meadows racetrack.

Its aim is too raise enough funds to pay off revenue bonds that were issued to build the track in 1984.

"Right now is looks like taxpayers will have to pay [off the bonds]. We would rather have [the track] pay for itself," said Gary Palmer, leader of the Polk County, Iowa, citizens group.

The county issued $40 million of sports facility revenue bonds in 1984 to build the racetrack and remarketed the bonds under a lease-purchase agreement with the county in 1987. The county is seeking to refinance the debt by exercising a provision in the bond indenture that would allow for an early payment of the bonds. The racetrack filed for bankruptcy last year.

Mr. Palmer said the group has collected over 10,000 of the 12,500 signatures required to place the issue before voters. He added that the expects the group to reach its goal by Friday.

After the citizens group collects the required number of signatures, it will decide whether to place the issue on the ballot in November or next year too avoid conflicts with the general election.

The proposal, if approved, would "send a message" to state officials to draft legislation to allow the addition of casino gambling at the racetrack, Mr. Palmer said, adding that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would also have to approve the measure.

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