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Georgetown may see riverboat revenue, again

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night discussed possibly returning riverboat revenue sharing money to the town of Georgetown.
Commissioner George Ethridge suggested taking 1 percent from Floyd County and giving it to Georgetown, meaning each entity would receive 1 percent out of a pool of 15-percent sharing with surrounding counties and towns.
The 15-percent figure has not changed since before Caesars arrived in November 1998.
Currently, Crawford County receives 8 percent, Floyd and Washington counties 2 percent and New Albany receives 3 percent.
The county also has a revenue-sharing agreement with all Harrison County towns.
Georgetown previously received riverboat sharing (1 percent) before it was removed by the Harrison County Council in January 2004.
Last December, Georgetown Town Council president Gary Smith told the board it was the fault of the town council for failing to report to Harrison County the manner in which the town was spending the money.
Harrison County Council Chair Gary Davis, speaking Monday night, said the council at the time took away the money because they believed Floyd County was impacted more by Caesars (now Horseshoe Casino) in Bridgeport than Georgetown. Davis was a member of the council at that time.
‘I think the council’s thoughts were Floyd County needed the money more than Georgetown, given the impact on the two political subdivisions,’ Davis said. ‘There was some sentiment Georgetown wasn’t spending the money; they were sitting on it to build a new town hall. That didn’t go over well with the people on the council.’
Speaking on behalf of the council at the time (2004), not from his personal point of view, Davis said they believed Floyd County was impacted more because they maintain and patrol the roads used to go to the casino for many motorists.
‘There’s nobody driving through Georgetown to get to the boat, I don’t think,’ he said.
‘Au contraire,’ Ethridge said. ‘There’s two in this room that do.’
Davis said the council recommended Floyd County share the revenue with local towns such as Georgetown.
‘My understanding is they never have,’ he said.
According to a story in this newspaper from January 2004, one councilmember, Carl Duley, argued in favor of Georgetown. At that time, Duley said the town had a new board which, no doubt, has plans to use the money, which, since 1999, had totaled more than $1 million.
‘Most of the revenue so far has been stashed by the old board in hopes of replacing the town hall,’ the story read.
Duley said Georgetown is a neighbor to Harrison County and he didn’t understand why everyone was so against the town.
‘Nobody gave a good reason for taking the money away,’ he said.
The funding is sorely needed in Georgetown, according to Smith, to help fix the town’s crumbling infrastructure.
Smith said retaining walls in the town are leaning toward S.R. 64 and the sidewalks are hardly walkable. He said the waterlines in the town are 50 to 60 years old and ‘are leaking everywhere.’
Georgetown also is required to begin the process of upgrading its sewage treatment plant, which will become a regional facility and handle all of the flow west of Floyd Central High School in Floyd County.
Ethridge said they’ll contact Floyd County to make them aware a possible change is on the way to give them plenty of time to prepare.
‘I know when we were trying to gain support from surrounding communities and counties to support us when they were talking about taking riverboat money away, Georgetown sent a letter in support of us,’ Commissioner Kenny Saulman said. ‘And Floyd County didn’t send a letter in at all in support.’
Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said he didn’t want to see Georgetown receive more money than Elizabeth or Laconia.
The board unanimously agreed to ask Georgetown representatives to return at the board’s next meeting, Monday, May 2, at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the issue.
The riverboat-sharing agreement goes into effect July 1 of each year.
The commissioners agreed they’re OK with the other county/town percentage agreements.