About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NorCo Gaming Board Sets Criteria For Municipal Grants

Northampton County's nine-member Gaming Authority could award up to $1.6 million in slots revenue this year. Last month, the Board awarded approximately $940,000 in restricted "impact" grants. These are limited to Bethlehem and the five municipalities surrounding Bethlehem, where the Sands Casino is located. At their May 16 meeting, the Authority established criteria by which other municipalities may apply for "uncommitted" funds.

First, the application process will be open to every municipality, even those entitled to impact grants. Authority member Tony Pristash, who also serves on Northampton Borough Council, proposed excluding the impact communities from uncommitted funds, but Solicitor Graham Simmons cautioned against excluding any municipality. "You're going down a road where you could expose yourself," he cautioned.

Second, all applicants can apply for up to $50,000. Suggestions that the sum be smaller, or that there be matching grants, were deferred. Authority member Gerald Yob, who is also Freemansburg's Mayor, pointed out that many small municipalities like his would simply lack the funds for matching grants. "If it wouldn't be for gaming, we'd have nothing," he pointed out.

Third, there is a one application per municipality limit.

Finally, the grants can be used for infrastructure, human services, public safety or emergency management.

Now that the criteria are established, Executive Director Karen Collis will host two informational sessions on June 9, at 2 pm and 6 pm, for interested municipalities. Grant applications must be in by August 6, 2014, and will be awarded at an Authority meeting on September 22, 2014.

Northampton County's Gaming Board only has authority over slots revenue. Northampton County has also budgeted $1 million in anticipated revenue from table games this year. The County is also sitting on $1.375 million in unspent table games revenue identified in the approved 2014 Budget as "future grants". This is a total of $2.375 million, with no grant process in place to ensure proper distribution.

No comments: