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Kane to dole out $1M from dwindling riverboat pot

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 5:30 a.m.CST

GENEVA – Kane County again will dole out about $1 million of casino money to civic and charitable organizations throughout the county this year.

However, that commitment, matching funding levels of the past three years, comes as the county’s share of the take from Elgin’s Grand Victoria Casino continues to shrink.

Monday, the Kane County Board’s Riverboat Committee recommended the full County Board sign off on the committee’s plan to distribute $4.43 million in money the county will collect this year from the Elgin riverboat casino.

The county government annually collects 7.5 percent of net operating income from the Grand Victoria, under terms of a longstanding agreement between the county and casino operators. The money is to be spent on “education, environment and economic development,” according to the agreement.

About $3.57 million of the money collected this year will be allocated to various needs and programs within various county departments.

Some money is automatically allocated, including $800,000 to the county’s bonds to finance the debt that paid for the construction of the county’s Juvenile Justice Center.

County officials said Monday that those bonds have been refinanced, and will require lower annual payments in each of the next three years. When the bonds are retired, the money can be reallocated to other needs.

However, the county’s internal spending will leave only about $778,500 in new revenue this year to pay for the county’s traditional flurry of grants to nongovernmental public service agencies in Kane County.

In years past, the grant totals have been much higher. At one time, the fund amassed about $12 million.

However, in recent years, the pot has shrunk, falling from $6.7 million in 2010 to $4.4 million this year.

County Board members opted to boost the external grants funding to $1 million, however, by agreeing to supplement this year’s $778,500 with some of the $10 million from previous years that still is on balance within the riverboat fund.

The County Board will next decide which of the 67 grant requests it has received will be funded from that $1 million.

The Riverboat Committee is scheduled to meet June 4.

Grant requests then will require formal approval from the full County Board.

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