Casino taxes flat for Clark, Champaign counties

Casino revenue has remained relatively flat for Clark and Champaign counties over the past two years, according to information from the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Both counties received slightly less revenue compared to 2013, however. Clark County collected about $1.6 million in casino tax revenues last year, down less than 1 percent from the previous year. Champaign County received about $459,300, about a 1 percent decrease.

Statewide adjusted gross casino revenues were about $812 million last year, up slightly from 2014, according to information from the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The revenues are collected from casinos in Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo and Cleveland.

The money provides a boost to general fund dollars in counties and area schools, local leaders said.

Funding from the casino revenue has been stable in the past few years, said Andrea Millice, Champaign County administrator. The money goes into the county’s general fund, where it has been used for a variety of purposes.

“We don’t have it earmarked that we’re using it for anything specific,” Millice said. “With the extra income we’ve had some extra dollars there to go ahead and do some permanent improvements that needed done.”

The county has made some basic repairs to roofs and paved parking lots at some county buildings in the past, for example, Millice said. The county received its first payment in 2012.

The state taxes gross casino revenues and provides quarterly payments to counties. School districts receive their share of the taxes — about a third — twice a year. About 51 percent of the revenue goes to counties, while the rest is split between schools and smaller payments that go toward cities that host the casinos, training law enforcement and providing assistance for gambling addiction.

The state taxes about 33 percent of gross casino revenue, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Reports from the Ohio Department of Taxation show Springfield City Schools received about $390,000 last year, while Urbana City Schools received about $100,000. The next largest payment went to Northeasterm Local Schools for approximately $170,000, while in Champaign County the Graham Local School District received about $100,000.

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools received about $105,000 from casinos, Superintendent Gregg Morris said.

The money goes into the district’s general fund and makes up about half a percent of that fund.

“Every little bit helps,” he said.

After going through a period of cuts, the district is watching its budget closely, Morris said. It didn’t use the casino money for any particular project.

“Anything we get goes into trying to stretch that budget,” Morris said, and helps delay having to go back to voters for money.

The casino revenue goes into the general fund for Graham Local Schools as well, said Judy Geers, district treasurer.

“We spend it on anything we can possibly do that’s going to enhance the educational process for our students,” Geers said.

It can be used to pay for anything from salaries to everyday maintenance for example. While helpful, she estimated it accounts for only about 0.6 percent of Graham’s roughly $17 million general fund budget.

“I don’t think it’s going to fund our district,” Geers said. “It’s a help. We never turn down money.”

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