A state-run resort operated in the black for the first time last year, but it wasn’t nearly enough to cover debts. A state audit shows the Honey Creek Resort on Rathbun Lake in south-central Iowa turned a small profit of $4,200.

Kevin Baskins is spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the operation of the facility. “We’re not entirely surprised. As the economy’s improved, we’ve had more people going down there,” Baskins said. “I’ve never really heard a negative report from somebody who has been at Honey Creek.”

Deputy State Auditor Andy Nielsen said 2011 was the best year for Honey Creek since the resort opened in September 2008. “It’s an improvement over past years – at least they’re generating some income. But they’re still not where they need to be,” Nielsen said.

More than $30 million is left on the bond that financed construction of the resort — which includes a lodge, convention center, aquatic center and 18-hole golf course. The Iowa D.N.R. paid about $1.8 million to cover Honey Creek’s debts last year.

Baskins says it’s not clear what the future holds. “Certainly, we want to see continued growth in the income being generated by Honey Creek,” Baskins said. “The question is what is its potential and what can we expect in terms of revenue to cover operating costs and satisfying bonds as well?” In 2010, Honey Creek Resort lost $46,000.