SNOW HILL –County officials made no offer to grant a Town of Snow Hill request for a share of Worcester County’s casino revenue this week.
The Worcester County Commissioners opted not to give Snow Hill any of the funding the county receives from the Casino at Ocean Downs. The decision came after county staff pointed out that the money was currently being used to pay down the debt associated with the construction of Worcester Technical High School.
“It’s going to reduce the amount of money you have to put toward debt service,” County Attorney Sonny Bloxom said.
The funding request came from Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman. He said that because local casino funding had increased when a portion of it stopped going to Baltimore City last year, he was seeking a grant for Snow Hill.
“All I can do is ask,” he said, adding that he was upset with the commissioners’ decision not to pursue the matter.
Dorman said that Snow Hill and Pocomoke were both located on Route 113, the main thoroughfare that connected the south end of the county to the area near the casino. He said residents from his town visited the casino all the time and spent their money there. The two southern Worcester County towns, though, do not get the local impact grants Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Berlin do.
“Ocean City didn’t want the casino and they get 20 percent of the money,” he said. “I’m just trying to get a piece of the pie to help us.”
He said Snow Hill, the county seat, was in need of major infrastructure improvements. Its array of government buildings limited its tax base, he said. Dorman believes even a small portion of the county’s casino funding could help the town with improvements.
“That would help us get our infrastructure up to par,” he said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners asked staff whether casino revenue was expected to increase in the future.
“Most projections show little to no growth,” said Harold Higgins, the county’s chief administrative officer.
Commissioner Ted Elder pointed out that though Snow Hill and Pocomoke received no direct casino grant, their citizens did benefit from Worcester Technical School.
“The whole county uses that school,” he said.
Dorman says he’ll continue to advocate for funding for his town, particularly since the majority of the county commissioners represent the northern end of Worcester County.
“Everybody lives in the north end of the county except for Commissioner (Merrill) Lockfaw,” Dorman said. “Everything goes north. We’re like the red-headed step child. We don’t get a fair shake.”