Eager Politicians Eye Casino Pot O’ Gold

Pot of GoldWith the date drawing closer to a referendum on any proposed casino in Springfield, the City Council’s self-anointed Casino Site Committee heard from casino consultant Shefsky & Froelich Inc. last week on how best to allocate Host Agreement funding for community investments.

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According to a story in the Republican by Jack Flynn, Shefsky & Froelich attorney Cezar M. Froelich informed the committee that the Host Agreement currently being drafted by the city would have casino developers providing a lump sum payment to the city, as opposed to the alternative that many had previously in mind, a dispersal of funds to various community projects directly.

“The [requests for funding] were 30 or 40 when we stopped counting,” said Froelich of the individual requests for funding, according to Flynn’s story.

Instead, the city is going with a lump sum payment by developers (upon approval of a license) that would then be disbursed by the Mayor and City Council, said Froelich.

According to the article, many city councilors were taken by surprise by the decision, since several specific projects that had previously been earmarked would now be omitted from the Agreement.

City Councilor Tim Rooke, meanwhile, took the discussion a step further by proposing that instead of the city spending the monies on pet projects, the funds go instead to providing tax relief to the city’s taxpayers.

Said Rooke in a follow-up email: “I suggested that the most equitable distribution of any indirect funds from a casino developer should go directly to lower the tax burden for each of the tax payers and not to special interest projects of any elected official or group.”

That’s sure to stick in the craw of more than a few city councilors who surely have other, more needy plans for pot o’ gold on the horizon.

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3 Responses to Eager Politicians Eye Casino Pot O’ Gold

  1. Rooke’s idea is intriguing, isn’t it? I’m curious to see if there are cases of other communities that took that approach when letting in a casino.
    Of course, it’s hard to imagine there being the political support in the city for his idea. But I’m interested to know what residents think of it.
    So, Bill, as a Springfield homeowner, which would you rather: having the money being used to fund specific projects in the city, or getting a break on your property tax?

    M. Turner
    March 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm

  2. I would MUCH rather see it going to property tax relief. The whole reason our property taxes are so high is because of the city’s revenue shortages. If the city is so big about casinos being a revenue boon, we should see the benefits.

    As for Springfield’s services and other projects, any money being tossed at them will only perpetuate a long-standing problem this city has had for decades: A near total lack of innovation, modernization, and foresight.

    As I have said at different times for many years now, this city needs to reform and restructure the way it operates. In so many ways, it functions today as if it were still the 1980s. I would like to see both the DPW and the city’s antiquated library system restructured. The library system in particular has been on life support for many years, and it will only continue to be so if it keeps operating with its generational blinders on. The DPW has been operating the same way for decades – and that “same way” is inefficient and costly to the taxpayers. Similarly, the Parks Department needs to review its practices and look at its vendor contracts. ($900 per trash can is a total ripoff. Come on, boys, you can do better than that.) I also have a bone to pick with the city over its snow removal contracts. I am *sick and tired* of watching three-to-four plow trucks line up wagon train-style, one behind the other, and “plowing” an inch of slush off the road in 16 Acres. What an abusive waste. These companies need to be far better monitored and regulated as to both when and where they perform their duties. Sometimes they sit idly in their trucks for hours before a snowstorm arrives. Think they do that for free?

    The above are just a few glaring examples. There are so many issues and too few leaders willing to face them and fix them. I’ll take the property tax relief, please.

    Oh, well. That’s my rant for today. See what you started, Mo?

    Bill D.
    March 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

  3. Bill, always happy to hear you rant.
    Let’s see if that tax-relief idea has any legs.

    M. Turner
    March 6, 2013 at 9:50 am