Casino tax revenues up

BUSINESS-MONEY

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The year may only be two-thirds over, but Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana county governments are already seeing significantly more in receipts from the state’s gambling casinos than they saw for all of last year.

Gambling tax revenues have added more than $3.5 million to local coffers already this year, which is about three times what was received last year, including $1.2 million for Mahoning County.

Trumbull County Auditor Adrian Biviano said he believes the tax revenue should be larger.

“It’s not what the state had originally said,” Biviano said. “It’s about 35 to 40 percent below what they originally told us that revenue would be.”

The extra money has allowed local counties to fund agencies they were not able to in the past. In Mahoning County, another $400,000 is being earmarked for the sheriff’s budget.

“If we had the money, be able to help the sheriff’s department come off of some of the concession that they had on for a while,” said commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti

In Columbiana County the windfall has meant $700,000 funding for a number of projects and departments, such as the county fair board, the drug task force, paving parking lots at county buildings and funding employee retirement.

None of the local counties are planning to use the funds to create new programs, opting instead to meet existing needs.

“One of the things we want to do is you have your continuing expenses and they should be supported by continuing revenues,” said Mahoning County Budget Director Audrey Tillis. “And so this did help fill a hole for the county.”

Biviano said the casino revenues will add about $1 million to the county budget.

“Due to the substantial cuts by the state in our general fund, we’ve had to supplement the general fund with casino monies,” he said.

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