TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Vigo County voters will soon be pressed to make important decisions at the voting polls.
One is if a $100 million casino will be built in the county. Officials with the casino bill anticipate it will not only bring in millions of dollars, but people to the community each year.
It’s written into the casino legislation that three percent of the tax revenue collected each year would break down 40% to Terre Haute, 30% to Vigo County, 15% to the Vigo County School Corporation and 15% to West Central 2025, an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce.
Senator and casino bill author Jon Ford says 3% of the casino revenue will go back to the community.
When looking at areas in need of improvement in Vigo County, many people will tell you schools and economic development are top concerns.
Ford says this was a discussion with his colleagues at the state level, which is why the casino proposal bill for Vigo County is unique.
“Most supplemental taxes does not go to schools, mainly just goes to cities and counties, so we wrote them into it to give them additional support,” Ford said.
A supplemental wagering tax or admission tax from the casino will be divided into four portions within the county. Typically in the state, 2% is split between county and city. In Vigo County, 40% will go to city and 30% to county.
This casino proposal is unique because Vigo gets an extra 1% it will be split between the school corporation and West Central 2025. Typically that 1% would go back to the state.
“I think that’s it’s just a really natural fit to how we can put some gas behind this initiative,” Chamber president Kristen Craig said.
She explains West Central 2025 as an economic development initiative under the chamber’s umbrella.
The group was started over a year ago and is still in a research and discussion phase on issues to tackle in a six county area. That’s Vigo, Sullivan, Clay, Vermillion, Parke and Putnam counties. At least two people from each county are meeting regularly to talk issues.
“It’s people representing community foundations … We’ve got people who are involved in arts projects, we have people that are just interested volunteers from the community,” she said.
The biggest area of conversation for the initiative thus far: broadband internet access, especially in rural areas. The group hopes to ensure the region has access.
“It impacts education, it impacts, quality of life, it impacts people wanting to move to an area.”
Another idea is working on trails to connect all six counties.
Craig says currently there is no funding for the group, and the hope is that potential casino revenue isn’t the only source. But it should provide the dollars to work toward these tasks.
“Obviously, we do not believe the money generated from a casino will solve our problem,” Vigo County Schools superintendent Rob Haworth said.
Haworth has kept busy this fall presenting the school corporation’s financial need to the community.
The administration is looking to cut four million dollars from their budget and generate $7 million a year in a property tax increase over 8 years.
Haworth says any funding is welcome considering November’s operational referendum.
“You could take that an apply that to personnel, you could take that and apply that to more of an operational cost, or you could put it into infrastructure.”
Haworth says ultimately that decision will be up to the Vigo County School Board.
If a casino passes, there’s also an additional wagering tax and a local agreement with county government.
The casino PAC estimates the wagering tax would generate $18.5 million considering a total gross casino revenue of $100 million.
The city and county would split 25% of the tax, generating just over $4.5 million each. The other 75% of the tax would go back to the state.
Mayor candidates say they’d like to see money go to quality of life issues. County commissioners say they have not yet discussed what they would do with their 30%.
This is also on top of a local agreement that county commissioners will negotiate.