Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
Casino revenue dealt to districts
By Shelley Grieshop
Area schools soon will pocket their first share of casino cash, but officials aren't banking on the dollars.
Although more than $54,500 is heading to Celina City Schools by the end of the month, district treasurer Mike Marbaugh remains skeptical.
"Seeing will be believing," he said. "We'll be glad to get this $50,000-plus and will put it to good use ... but I wonder what the state will end up taking away."
Marbaugh said he expected the casino tax revenue but wasn't counting on it.
"I didn't include it in my (financial) forecast," he said.
Schools across the state will share $37.9 million just eight months after the first of four voter-approved casinos opened its doors. The three operating casinos in Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus pay a 33 percent tax on their profits after winners are paid. The fourth casino, the Horseshoe Cincinnati, opens in March.
Ohio's statute gives 51 percent of the casino tax to each county on a quarterly basis. Mercer County received its first revenue check of $35,647 in July. The second distribution in late October was $71,150. Auglaize County received revenues of $40,000 and $94,000.
School districts net 34 percent of the casino tax twice per year based on student population. Statewide figures show an average $20.93 for each of Ohio's 1.8 million students.
Celina schools will receive the lion's share locally for its 2,627 students. The next biggest windfall goes to St. Marys City Schools with $44,507; the student tally is 2,139.
Tom Sommer, treasurer for the St. Marys school district, echoed Marbaugh's sentiment.
"We'll take it but I'm very skeptical," he said.
He, too, believes the state will reduce school aid in the coming year in response to the new revenue. Sommer said he did include an estimated casino revenue amount in his five-year forecast but downplayed its value.
"We have a $20 million budget," he said. "It doesn't do much for us."
According to a constitutional amendment passed by voters in November 2009, the tax on casino profits also is distributed to the host cities (5 percent), the Casino Control Commission Fund and the Ohio State Racing Commission Fund (3 percent each) and the Law Enforcement Training Fund and Problem Casino Gambling and Addictions Fund (2 percent each).
Grand Lake schools:
St. Henr $19,889
Fort Recovery $18,776
Marion Local $14,470
St. Marys $44,507
New Bremen $17,558