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Kane Reviewing Its Use Of Riverboat Funds

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GENEVA, Ill. (STMW) – The Kane County Board’s riverboat subcommittee is recommending some revisions in how the county distributes 2012 proceeds from the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.

The county is projecting $5.5 million in income from its riverboat fund for 2012. The annual fund was established as part of the original licensing agreement for the casino. Typically, about $1 million is disbursed in external grants. The rest of that money is spent on county projects.

“This is a little different than just a budgeting perspective,” said committee Chairman John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles. “This isn’t our money.”

Although the casino recently said that its business is down more than 20 percent, the $5.5 million projection for 2012 should be solid, according to Cheryl Pattelli, executive director of the Kane County Finance Department.

But in the following year, the county might experience more decreases in riverboat funding, she said.

The committee has about $700,000 in unallocated funds.

Committee members said that it would be a good idea for the county to save some of that money to prepare for further reductions in the riverboat fund next year.

“I would say to be cautious while the Grand Victoria revenue is down,” said Cathy Hurlbut, R-Elgin. “Because we have a little extra right now, we need to be weaning ourselves off of it.”

A recent fee increase in traffic tickets is designed to help fund the Child Advocacy Center, which typically has been funded through riverboat money. State’s Attorney Joe McMahon noted that the county was not able to increase the fee on mail-in traffic tickets. Between the tickets paid in person and in court, however, the county could see an additional $200,000 in revenue, he said.

That additional money is a way to supplement the riverboat money, McMahon said.

Committee member Jesse Vazquez, D-Aurora, said it would be a good idea for the county to do something for economic development. The county has no riverboat money allotted for economic development projects.

Committee member Tom Van Cleave, R-Batavia, noted that even though several of the projects are not in the economic development category, they will be providing jobs. For example, the county recently issued a grant to an Aurora non-profit that helps laborers return to work.

The committee also is modifying the language in its guidelines for external grants, limiting the municipal grants. They will do beautification and one-time project grants, Hoscheit said.

“The spirit of this is we’re not going to provide projects to repave the streets,” he said. “They tend to be more capital-related, with matching grants.”

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