The mayor of Perryville has a $680,000 beef.
We think he’s exactly right, but Harford County doesn’t see it that way. This means Mayor James L. Eberhardt will have to stand in line, hat in hand, until the county figures out how it wants to dispense the money pouring into its coffers from the Hollywood Casino Perryville.
The casino opened in September but Perryville has yet to see a dime of its share of the proceeds. Meanwhile, the town has spent more than $500,000 of its $4.5 million operating budget to move a public works facility closer to the casino and for fire and police services.
“Let’s get on with it,” said Mr. Eberhardt, not a man to mince words. “It’s been very demanding about getting up here to take care of the cash cow, which hasn’t proven to be true for us, as a cash cow.”
The reason, it seems, is a byzantine process governing the doling out of casino proceeds to local governments.
State law requires that 5.5 percent of the gross casino gaming revenue goes to local governments. In 2009, Cecil County and Perryville worked out an agreement on how to split their share of the casino money, with the county getting 65 percent and the town getting 35 percent.
Of the $1.9 million that Cecil County has collected since September, about $680,000 is supposed to go to Perryville, says County Budget Manager Craig W. Whiteford.
But figuring out how and when that money gets Perryville is cumbersome, to say the least.
The law requires Cecil County to create a council to recommend how the money will be allocated. The council has 45 days to approve plans submitted by the town and the county. Perryville had its plan reviewed last month.
But county officials told Mayor Eberhardt that Perryville must wait for its share because its plan will become part of the county’s overall plan. The county plan is still in the works and is subject to recommendations and comments by the development council. Only when the county’s plan has been reviewed will Perryville get its share of the money.
The county plan is due to be reviewed on March 30. But then comes a public hearing and then a vote by the development council. Oh, and state legislators on the council need time to give their input because they have been too busy in Annapolis to attend council meetings. That could delay matters until after the legislature adjourns April 11.
Enough already. Governments at all levels are strapped for cash, and it’s time to get out of the bureaucratic swamp.
Give the good folks in Perryville their money — now.