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New Albany asks for larger share of riverboat revenue

Harrison County’s neighbors to the east, west and north are seeking extensions of riverboat revenue-sharing, which expires this month, five years after Caesars casino riverboat put down its gangway at Bridgeport and the money began to roll ashore for Caesars, for the state, and for the host county.
No one knew what the effects of the casino would be when it opened in November 1998, said New Albany Mayor Regina Overton. But, now, it’s clear that the bulk of Caesars’ patrons travel through New Albany on their way to the boat on S.R. 111, just across the Floyd County line from Harrison.
During a quick trip to the podium at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners’ meeting Monday night, Overton asked that revenue sharing be renewed for New Albany and later that the three percent New Albany now receives be renegotiated.
During a telephone interview yesterday, Overton said New Albany would like to up the amount to five percent.
Overton stressed that she’s not complaining in any way. Caesars has been more than a generous corporate neighbor and more than welcome, she said.
‘They have been nothing but the best to deal with.’
Overton said the money New Albany has received ‘ nearly $1 million in revenue sharing over five years plus revenue sharing that Caesars pays directly to the Floyd County Community Foundation ‘ has been spent wisely. It has been used for purchases or projects the town would never have been able to afford.
‘We have done such good things with that money,’ she said. ‘We have had such responsible people doing it. I’ve been so privileged to be a part.’
New Albany stands to lose about $200,000 because of the $24 million cap placed by the state on payments to Harrison County.
There has been no increase in crime in New Albany, Overton said, but there has certainly been an increase in traffic, which creates road maintenance and police protection in case of traffic accidents.
‘A normal person going to the casino would not go through Harrison County,’ she said. ‘I don’t think it’s unreasonable to request five percent.’
Harrison County shares 18 percent of the revenue it receives from Caesars with neighboring Crawford, Washington and Floyd counties, plus Georgetown, New Albany and the 10 towns in Harrison County.
The commissioners approved sending the request on to the county council, which has final say.
Washington County and Georgetown also got approval to take their requests for continued funding to the council at its next planning session, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.