City And Town Attorneys Say There’s Nothing Illegal About Gaming Revenue Sharing
By Mike Perleberg
Dearborn County Courthouse. File photo.
(Dearborn County, Ind.) – Dearborn County’s cities and towns are getting their wish for a second look at whether riverboat revenue sharing is legal or not.
A State Board of Accounts audit released last month indicated that the interlocal agreements in which Dearborn County shares a quarter of its casino admissions tax revenue with the municipalities are illegal.
The audit findings prompted some members of Dearborn County Council to consider ending the sharing, which has been in place since riverboat gaming was introduced in the county in 1997. Council has tabled any decision until their June 27 meeting.
Leaders of Aurora, Greendale, West Harrison, St. Leon, Dillsboro, and Moores Hill were taken aback by the sudden news. The loss of revenue sharing could put a big dent in the budgets of those cities and towns, as 2015 sharing totaled $1.5 million. The money has been used to fund services, purchase police and fire equipment, or simply be saved.
On Friday, attorneys for released a statement on the matter. They include Alan Miller representing the City of Aurora, Anthony Smart representing the City of Greendale, Andrea Ewan representing the Town of West Harrison, and John Watson representing the towns of Dillsboro, Moores Hill, and St. Leon.
“The funds our communities receive are crucial to our continued growth and, therefore, the growth of our county,” their statement says.
The towns and cities have been in contact with the SBOA regarding its opinion on the interlocal agreements.
“We have learned that the SBOA is currently reviewing their findings related to these agreements and has recommended to the County Attorney that no changes be made to them unless and until they have completed their review. We have also been informed there is likely a workable solution to any issues that might exist,” the statement continues.
The attorneys shared their opinion based on their own research that the agreements are not invalid or otherwise illegal.
“As such, we do not believe the termination of these agreements is necessary and we very much look forward to continuing our relationship with the County,” said the four attorneys.
Another finding in the SBOA audit looked at the county’s revenue sharing with non-governmental agencies. Local fire departments, EMS agencies, and private schools received $384,894 in 2015, even though there are no written agreements.
The SBOA suggested that the county and revenue sharing recipients needed to have in place contracts, grant agreements or memorandums of understanding as a way to ensure that the taxpayer money is being used by the agencies for intended purposes.
View the statement from the city and town attorneys below: