Niagara County legislators appear poised to continue to spend the county's fund of casino cash until its gone.
The legislature voted on June 20 to give casino cash grants to several community groups and events — though officials are unsure whether they will continue to receive those funds from the state.
In late May, County Manager Rick Updegrove said state officials indicated the county may cease to receive a portion of casino fundings, following the Seneca Nation's March announcement that they would no longer pay the state its share of slot machine revenue.
In 2014, state lawmakers agreed to give 10 percent of its casino revenue to municipalities throughout the state that fall outside of the host communities, but are barred from hosting casinos under the terms of the tribal-state “compact.”
In recent years, that funding has added approximately $800,000 annually to Niagara County’s coffers. Three-quarters of it is used toward property tax relief while 25 percent supports economic and community development from the towns of Somerset to Wheatfield.
As of late May, the county had a casino-cash-fed community development fund of $284,662, said county treasurer Kyle Andrews. That amount included the state's final payment to the county in April, and excludes the resolutions for casino cash that were approved this year, which total approximately $158,000. The county has yet to pay out those allocated funds.
Updegrove said because the funds were allocated for community development, he expects lawmakers to continue spending the money on such projects until the fund is depleted.
This week, the legislature advanced to its economic development committee these casino grant requests:
— $2,100 for Active Hose Fire Company No. 2 to host Flicks in the Park.
— $1,800 for Live Hose Co. beautification projects.
— $2,100 for Project Pride of North Tonawanda to purchase bike racks for Webster and Oliver streets.
— $6,000 for Active Hose Fire Company to fund construction of a Mercy EMS headquarters within the town of Niagara.
— $3,500 for Gasport-based Boy Scout Troop 18 to repair its trailer and camping equipment.
— $3,500 for Middleport-based Boy Scout Troop 23 to purchase an enclosed trailer to take to camp and fundraisers.
— $3,500 for the Niagara Celtic Festival.
— $3,000 for Frontier Volunteer Fire Co., Inc. and St. Johnsburg Fire Company, Inc. to host the 118th Annual Western New York Fireman's Association Convention from July 27 through July 29 at Wheatfield Town Hall Campus.