Starting in July, counties that have benefited from casino revenue will see a chunk of their money go to the city of Baltimore and Prince George’s County.
According to Maryland law, local jurisdictions get 5.5 percent of the slots revenue from the casino in their area. But beginning in fiscal 2012, 18 percent of that total — off the top, from every casino — will go to Baltimore. The law says Baltimore will get that money until 2027.
“I don’t know if the counties know this is going on,” said J. Michael Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, which handles the distribution of the casino money to local governments. “But I know, and the 82 percent that’s remaining will be split up among the counties and municipalities.”
Baltimore actually won’t get all 18 percent of the money. From its cut, $1 million annually will go to Prince George’s County for capital projects in the community within the 10 miles surrounding Rosecroft Raceway.
“There she blows. Well, that’s interesting,” said Craig W. Whiteford, budget manager for Cecil County, home to Maryland’s first casino, Hollywood Casino Perryville, which has so far created $1.2 million for the county. Whiteford said the county had already started making plans for its fiscal 2012 budget without taking into account the cut Baltimore will take. The budget department will have to reconsider its budget now, Whiteford said.
With the state expecting the Perryville casino to make $6 million annually, Baltimore would take about $1 million of Cecil County’s share, Whiteford said.
Phil Thompson, assistant finance officer for Worcester County, which is home to the Casino at Ocean Downs, said he also didn’t know about Baltimore’s percentage or how much to expect from future casino revenue.
“We’re just now getting started,” Thompson said. “We knew the money was coming, but there’s still quite a bit of a gray area with the laws, and each piece of it is just coming at us.”
The Pimlico Community Development Authority will act as a development council for what to do with the city’s money, Hopkins said.
State law says 75 percent of the money must be used in a way that is consistent with the Park Heights Master Plan, and the remainder would go to other economic and community development projects for neighborhoods around Pimlico Race Course. The money can also be used for neighborhood projects as part of the Northwest Community Planning Forum Strategic Neighborhood Action Plan.
The Park Heights Master Plan calls for the acquisition of more than 1,300 vacant and occupied properties by the city for demolition and redevelopment. The city had acquired about 300 properties as of November.
The Pimlico Community Development Authority plans to meet within the next few weeks to discuss what to do with the money, said city officials.
The authority consists of Thomas J. Stosur, director of Baltimore City Department of Planning, state Sens. Lisa A. Gladden and Catherine E. Pugh, and Dels. Nathaniel T. Oaks and Shawn Z. Tarrant, as well as 10 members from the community.
Gladden, Pugh, Oaks and Tarrant could not be reached for comment.
No such council has been authorized by law to make plans for the neighborhoods around Rosecroft.