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Where has all Caesars’ revenue sharing gone?

Since the opening of Caesars Indiana in Bridgeport in November of 1998, Harrison County’s neighbors have received substantial revenue sharing from gambling and admissions. Here’s how the funds are being spent on a variety of projects and needs.
Crawford, Washington and Floyd counties, New Albany and Georgetown combined have received more than $8.3 million since 1999. In 2001 these same counties, combined, received more than $3 million, allocated as revenue sharing by Harrison County officials from the riverboat casino.
Riverboat receipts to date total more than $58.4 million.
“In Crawford County, Caesars’ funds are spent the same way each year,” said Crawford County Auditor Terry Stroud. “When the monies were first received, the Crawford County Council passed an ordinance which mandates how the funds are to be divided.
“Fifty percent of the funds are mandated to be spent on Crawford County highway improvements, 40 percent are allotted to retire the Crawford County School Corp. debt, and 10 percent is divided by population between the four towns of English, Milltown, Leavenworth and Marengo,” said Stroud. “The towns are free to spend their money any way they see fit.”
Crawford received more than $1.6 million in 2001. The county has received more than $4.5 million or 8 percent of the total riverboat money paid out.
In Washington County, Auditor Lana Sullivan said the two projects that they have used riverboat funds are road related.
“We have spent about $243,000 on two road projects in our county since beginning to receive these revenues,” Sullivan said. She estimated that about $220,000 has funded the Washington County/ Salem by-pass, and about $23,000 has been spent on improvements to Jim Day Road, the road leading into the industrial park area.
Sullivan said the remainder of the funds are on deposit.
Washington County receives two percent of riverboat revenue, which has totaled about $1.14 million.
Floyd County Auditor Barbara Sillings said Floyd has spent $84,003 of the $200,550 it received in 2001. The remainder is in an interest-bearing fund at Regional Federal Bank in New Albany. That fund now has a balance of $291,639. Floyd has received one percent of riverboat money, totaling more than $500,000 since 1999.
In 2001, $45,572 was paid to the Floyd County Building Authority, $22,500 was a gift to the Center for Women and Families to supplement its budget, and $5,000 was given through the Floyd County treasurer to Teen Court.
Sillings said about $14,000 was spent on a variety of safety equipment for the county, such as bullet-proof vests, steel-toed shoes for highway department workers, uniforms, and three two-way radios and batteries among expenditures for other safety equipment bought locally.
“We are being very careful with how we spend money from this riverboat fund,” Sillings said.
Floyd County Sheriff Randy Hubbard said the county has spent none of the revenue sharing on extra police patrols for S.R. 111, which leads to the casino site at Bridgeport. Traffic hasn’t been a problem, but it does get heavy prior to boarding times on the boat, he said.
If the gaming law is changed to omit boarding restrictions, travel to the boat should be more spread out and heavy traffic at specific times relieved, he said.
In 2001, New Albany received more than $601,000 from Caesars, bringing its total to more than $1.7 million.
New Albany is using its riverboat money to purchase new equipment, such as dump trucks and backhoes, for the street department and to lease-purchase 12,000 96-gallon uniform garbage containers which are being distributed to residents now.
“Because we have no line item in our budget for new city equipment, we use this Caesars’ money to buy what we need,” said Kevin Boehnlein, chief of staff and communications director for New Albany.
“We are using these funds to replace eight to 10 police vehicles each year,” said Boehnlein. “The city pays 80 percent and the state pays 20 percent of the cost of each vehicle. So far we have replaced about 20 vehicles.”
Boehnlein said he estimates the city had spent about $400,000 of the 2001 riverboat money, with the rest, about $201,000, going into in a money market fund which is portable from year to year.
“We in Georgetown are looking at several projects where we will spend our riverboat money,” said town treasurer Linda Sanders. “We are right now in the process of obtaining bids on each of them.”
Projects there include adding onto the existing town hall or possibly building a new one, putting in new sidewalks on the south side of S.R. 64, upgrading the water meter reading system, and new computer software for the town hall.
“For now, all of our money is in an account gaining interest until we are ready to spend it,” Sanders said.
Georgetown received more than $200,000 in riverboat funds in 2001. Its total riverboat income is more than $500,000, or one percent of money paid out the past three years.