Austintown trustees unhappy with proposed JEDD at racino site

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Austintown trustees expressed concerns Monday with a Joint Economic Development District for the Penn National Gaming racino site, which was proposed last week by Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone.

Under Sammarone’s proposal, the city would provide water for the Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course in exchange for sharing tax revenues.

The proposal was supported by former Austintown trustee and current Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler.

Trustees said the proposed JEDD would place an income tax on future casino workers and a profit tax on Penn National Gaming, which is something trustees think will hurt more than help.

“We need jobs in this area.  We need to work together to bring more jobs.  Taxation is not the way to do it,” said Trustee Lisa Oles.

Penn National Gaming spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said placing an income tax on future casino workers isn’t uncommon, especially in cases of townships because townships cannot collect income tax.

But it’s the proposed profit tax that concerns trustees more because they fear it could discourage future businesses from locating here.

“Any business that would want to move into our community would see us do this or participate in this and would automatically see that if they were coming in here, we’re going to be taxing their profits. They’ve come here to come to our community to try to increase revenues within their company and by us taking money out of their pockets, what makes them want to come to Austintown?,” said Trustee Jim Davis.

The trustees said despite their concerns, the lines of communication are open with Youngstown.

According to Penn National, no one from the city has spoken to them about a proposal, but they also are working on finding a solution to their water supply.

“We have multiple options and we’re looking into all of them, including getting water from the city,” Tenenbaum said.

“You’d hate to point fingers at the city. However, I think we’ve got to find a happy medium,” Davis said.

Sammarone couldn’t be reached for comment.

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