First Posted: 3/22/2013
The news this week that county municipalities got $12.5 million in so-called gaming grant money, raises all kinds of questions, not the least of which is: do we really lose that much money at the casino?
Imagine: the casino funds projects all over the county, while paying 55 percent of its profits to the state in addition to the local project money, and still manages to make money.
It’s mind boggling.
Why is this money buying police cars and trucks, when it was supposed to reduce, if not eliminate, property tax?
And why are towns requesting grant money for cars and trucks, anyway, when that is an expected budget expense?
If anything, the casino money should be seen as a windfall, “mad money,” if you will. Not part of normal operating expenses.
Pittston, we believe, does it right.
The city requests grant money for redevelopment projects which are out of a normal budget. Things a municipality would not be expected to be able to do without a state grant.
And we might ask, if the state wants to give gaming money to the county municipalities, then why not just give it to them without strings on a simple rotating basis, maybe based on a per capita formula and let them do with it what they will?
But that wouldn’t work because it would eliminate a layer of bureaucratic deciders-in-chief.
Why not use all the casino revenue to fix the “yellow boy” in the Susquehanna and the combined sewage outflows into the river up and down the valley, a project that would benefit the river, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and would bring an economic boon of water recreation, tourism and fishing.
It’s been said cleaning up the river would cost as much as $250 million.
Gamblers lost that much in the Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia in 2012 and they lost $2.5 billion — yes billion with ‘b’ — in all 11 Pennsylvania casinos in 2012.
After all, if people are going to pour billions down the drain, shouldn’t it go into the river?