Twenty dollar bills
By Jason Emerson
More than $150,000 will be distributed among the four Cazenovia-area municipalities for them to spend in any way they see fit, thanks to the 2018 New York state budget adopted this week. The budget included $2.25 million in shared host community gaming revenue for gaming devices located in Madison County at the Oneida Indian Nation’s Yellow Brick Road Casino.
The gaming revenue, which county legislators had been fighting to get since 2016, was initially vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last October after both houses of the legislature approved it, although the governor said at the time he would work to get it included in the upcoming budget.
“Governor Cuomo followed through on his commitment to recognize Madison County as a host community and to provide an equitable distribution of revenue to the county now that it hosts casino gaming within its borders.” said Sen. David J. Valesky (D-Oneida). “I am very pleased we were able to get this done through the budget.”
“This measure will help ensure Madison County gets its fair share of revenue to offset the municipal costs of casino expansion and provide much-needed support for vital community services,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Nelson).
After a 90-minute discussion at the county Board of Supervisors meeting on April 11, it was agreed that the gaming revenue would be distributed with the town of Sullivan receiving about 25 percent of the total (since the casino is in that town), 50 percent of balance will go to individual towns and then 50 percent will remain in the county and go into the general fund. The county municipalities will receive funds using the same formula as is used to distribute county sales tax revenue each year. For the four municipalities in the greater Cazenovia area, that translates into:
•$106,000 for the town of Cazenovia.
•$43,000 for the village of Cazenovia.
•$41,800 for the town of Nelson.
•$25,156 for the town of Fenner.
“The discussion was that every town in the county has lost money off the tax rolls, and the whole county has had to step up to make a difference, so everyone should get a piece of the pie,” said Fenner Supervisor Dave Jones. “I think that was the fairest way to do it.”
“I thank the governor for putting this in the budget; every town and village in Madison County gets to share in it — it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Cazenovia Town Supervisor Bill Zupan. “County Board Chair John Becker worked extremely hard to get it done; he was the driving force at the county level. I think it’s great that Valesky and Magee worked hard on it and Cuomo found a way to make it happen. Now we just have to try to get it in the budget every year.”
Nelson Supervisor Roger Bradstreet said the fact that this was a one-time allotment left many of the board supervisors disappointed. “Initially we thought it would be ongoing [payments]. So with the one-year provision we are going to try get the governor to reinitiate it [for every year].”
As for how each municipality will spend its money, Zupan said he and his town board will discuss it, but said he would like to see some of it “sprinkled around” to organizations and programs throughout the town — particularly to CACDA and CRIS — as well as to use some of it to lower taxes or to keep the town tax increase at zero.
Bradstreet also said it was up to the pleasure of the town board, but there are some town projects that would be good candidates for the funds, such as to rebuild the pavilion behind the town office and general beautification of hamlet in keeping with the Route 20 revisions that will happen next year.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.