AUDIO: House Passes Bill To Codify Dearborn County Riverboat Revenue Sharing
By Mike Perleberg
Dearborn County Council. File photo.
(Dearborn County, Ind.) – Casino tax revenue sharing in Dearborn County would be protected under a bill that has passed the Indiana House.
Last year, Dearborn County Council considered seizing revenue sharing payments to local communities including the cities of Greendale and Aurora, as well as the towns of Dillsboro, Moores Hill, St. Leon, and West Harrison. Some council members cited a State Board of Accounts audit which determined the county 1997 resolution establishing the revenue sharing was not in line with state law.
The threat of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual funding didn’t sit well with the city and town officials.
Although local leaders put the issue on hold last summer, state lawmakers took notice of the quarreling. This legislative session, State Representative Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) filed House Bill 1027 to address the problem.
“The State Board of Accounts has pointed out – several times, I understand – there is nothing in statute that makes that legal. It’s not a huge thing. Nobody got a big fine. Nobody went to jail, or anything like that. But they suggested that we solve it. So, I went to the State Board of Accounts and asked them to write the language that would resolve the issue,” Frye explained on Eagle Country 99.3 this week.
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The legislation would require that a quarter of Dearborn County’s riverboat admissions taxes be distributed to the cities and towns in the county – the same process established by the county’s 1997 resolution. From that cut, the shared revenue will be divided up among the communities according to their population.
Frye’s bill also gives guidelines on how those communities may use the tax revenue. According to the bill, the cities or towns may use the money “to reduce the property tax levy of the cityor town for a specific year and for any legal or corporate purpose of the city or town.”
The county also used to share some of its riverboat revenue with private church schools in Dearborn County. Despite the changes by HB 1027, the State Board of Accounts previously advised those payments to private schools were illegal.
The new law would go into effect July 1, 2018.
On Tuesday, the House passed House Bill 1027 on an 88-2 vote.
House Bill 1027 now resides in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill is sponsored in the State Senator Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg).
“I’m positive that no matter what the final outcome is, we will take care of the State Board of Accounts issue,” Frye said.
How much does the revenue sharing mean for the Dearborn County cities and towns? In 2016,Greendale received more than $683,000, Aurora over $630,000, Dillsboro received $227,000, Moores Hill about $105,000, St. Leon received $70,000, and $35,000 for West Harrison.
The City of Lawrenceburg does not receive a portion of the county riverboat revenue sharing, as it is a direct recipient of admissions tax revenue as the host city of Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg.