Municipalities Seek Greater Share Of Casino Revenue

SNOW HILL- Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman made a plea for video lottery funding as he approached county officials with his town’s annual budget request last week.

Dorman told the Worcester County Commissioners Snow Hill was seeking its usual $450,000 grant from the county for fiscal year 2018, but again advocated for Snow Hill and Pocomoke to receive some of the slots revenue associated with the Casino at Ocean Downs.

“Just give Snow Hill and Pocomoke 1 percent,” Dorman said. “One percent would help.”

He told the commissioners the town’s activity was beginning to increase, as seven new businesses had opened since 2015 and four more were underway.

“Some of you might think we’re a lost cause but we’re not,” he said.

Dorman said the town was attracting visitors with a number of special events, including this weekend’s blues jam. He told the commissioners the last Paint Snow Hill event had been so popular it sold out in 12 hours. Dorman said a local power of prayer meeting, which included Karen Abercrombie of the movie “War Room,” had been so successful that he was working on setting up a countywide day of prayer. He said there’s even a chance actor Denzel Washington, a friend of Abercrombie’s, will take part.

While the town does have more and more to offer lately, Dorman said it was still lacking in funding.

“Unfortunately, we do not share in the economic windfalls of the north end of the county,” he said.

Dorman was referring to the video lottery grants provided to Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Berlin. He pointed out that the value of those grants had increased in recent years. In 2011, Ocean City, which receives 20 percent of the 5.5 percent of casino revenue set aside for local impact grants, got a grant for $225,000. That jumped to $633,000 in 2016. Dorman said the two smaller towns at the south end of the county could benefit greatly from as little as 1 percent of the local impact funding.

“It’d be nice if the equation would be changed,” he said.

Commissioner Ted Elder pointed out Snow Hill, which is home to the majority of the county’s buildings, did not ask for much.

“It seems to me the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” Elder said.

Following Dorman’s presentation, Berlin Mayor Gee Williams approached the commissioners with his town’s budget request. As it did last year, the town submitted a request for an unrestricted grant of $450,000.

“If you’re able to do more, happily we will accept,” Williams said, “but we know what it’s like.”

Williams said the town typically used its grant from the county to fund town infrastructure improvements. He said that during the coming fiscal year, the grant would help with the new Berlin Police Department currently under construction.

Williams added that while Governor Larry Hogan had made some efforts to restore the highway user fees to jurisdictions throughout the state, that funding was still short of what it once was. Because of that, he said the county’s grant would help the town address needed street and sidewalk improvements.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.