SALEM - City council wants a cut of the state's casino gambling proceeds and put the request in writing Tuesday, asking Columbiana County commissioners to share what they received with everybody else.
"I don't see any reason why the commissioners don't distribute it the same as local government funds," city Auditor Betty Brothers said.
She urged council members to approve a resolution requesting that county commissioners distribute the casino tax revenue "in the same manner and proportion as local government funds to local governments within the county."
Council unanimously approved the resolution, with Brothers referring to recent news stories about the county receiving its first share of the casino gambling tax funds in the amount of $94,000. She said the money represents the first five weeks of tax revenue generated by two casinos operating in the state, noting that two more casinos will be opening.
By her estimation, the county's cut comes to about $18,800 per week and could total over $997,000 for the year, for just two casinos. The city is losing about $102,000 in local government fund revenue over two years.
She said the city received $190,955 in 2011, $127,000 this year and is expected to get just $88,000 next year from LGF. Other municipalities and the townships are also losing out, along with the county, due to cuts in LGF by the state.
According to the city's resolution, the casino tax revenue is being allocated by the state to school districts, the eight largest cities in the state and to counties, but not to other local governments. The resolution said the municipalities and townships provide vital local services within the county, including police, fire, ems and street maintenance.
The question of whether the county commissioners would consider sharing the casino tax wealth came up during a recent Lisbon village council meeting. Joe Csonka, a Center Township trustee who's running for county commissioner against incumbent Commissioner Jim Hoppel, also recently said he would recommend sharing the casino tax income with the other communities.
Commissioners have said previously the income would help offset the county's losses in local government funds.
In other money business, city Treasurer Bob Tullis reported the latest income tax receipt information for the city, providing two months worth since council didn't meet last month. The city collects a 1 percent income tax.
At the end of July, the income tax revenue received so far this year was $2,714,372, which was an increase of $94,922 or 3.62 percent over last year's income by this time last year. At the end of August, the amount collected so far for the year was $3,036,945, an increase of $126,364 over last year at this time of year for an increase of 4.34 percent.
Tullis said anyone interested in the city's finances can find the information about the city's income tax receipts on the city website at www.cityofsalemohio.org. Information from the past five years is available.
He also warned city council about a uniformity of tax collection proposal being studied at the state level which could potentially cost the city money and some control. He said nothing's definite at this point, but he wanted them to be aware of what's being talked about.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org