Dauphin County fears latest gaming grants will be the last

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 1, 2017 5:43 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A midstate county that has distributed millions of dollars to municipalities every year to pay for capital projects is concerned its funding stream might dry up.

Dauphin County is warily watching how the state Legislature handles gaming money.

The county recently awarded more than $5.5 million to projects around the county, like fire station improvements, new playgrounds and a new park.

A state law guarantees it will get a small share of proceeds from Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Lebanon County every year.

But last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the law is unconstitutional, and the state Legislature hasn't fixed it.

Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste says legislators would be making a mistake if they try to move the money around.

"The problem is it's a committment they made to this community. It's a committment they made to these local governments, and it would be a huge reneging of a promise that they made if in fact they do that," says Haste.

Haste says the longer legislators wait to put forward a solution, the more nervous he gets.

"I think with every day that the problem is not resolved, it gets scarier and scarier. If they had solved it quickly last year, I don't think we'd be having this disucssion. They chose not to, that tells me there are some individuals taking a look at it," he adds.

Dauphin County is distributing this latest round of gaming grants only because it reached an agreement with Hollywood Casino to provide the funds until the Legislature address the problem.

Haste says because of the gaming grants, local municipalities have been able to complete projects without raising taxes.

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