On Monday, July 16, the , along with state Representatives Marcy Toepel (R-147), Mike Vereb (R-150) and Todd Stephens (R-151), held a press conference to reveal new legislation that would redistribute from the county’s share assessment.
If House Bill 2552 is passed, the casino would give 2% of its gross revenue back to the community – 75% of that will be going to maintenance and refurbishment services of parks and heritage sites, while the final 25% would be split evenly between local nonprofits Laurel House and Mission Kids.
"An estimated $1.2 million will be generated. $900,000 to the parks and heritage sites, and $150,000 each to Mission Kids and Laurel House," explained Toepel.
Currently, that money goes to the Commonwealth Financing Authority and the state determines how the money is distributed.
Mission Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that aims to "coordinate child abuse investigations and provide appropriate referrals to victims and their non-offending caregivers," according to their mission. Similarly, Laurel House's mission is to "provide a safe haven for abused women and their children, to raise awareness about domestic violence and to advocate for social change against domestic violence.
"These programs are extremely important to the community. Their services are highly needed due to the number cases of abuse," said Toepel.
“One in every four girls and one in every six boys will be sexually abused before they are 18,” said Mission Kids Executive Director Abbie Newman. “Mission Kids aims to aid in the trauma.”
"It is a little casino and there is only so much being generated. We wanted a dedicated line item of where the money was going. We talked it over and chose two that we thought the money would really benefit," said Toepel, when asked why these two organizations were specifically selected. "We would like to help everyone, but there just isn’t enough money."
Laurel House Deputy Director Marcus Christmas believes it’s great for community funding to be given back to them.
"We need support from our community because domestic violence is a community issue," said Christmas.
The commissioners revealed that the 2% county share assessment was always designated to go to the counties and therefore no money would be drawn from other programs.
"The important part is that this is a bipartisan decision so that this goes through and we can continue to help the parks and heritage sites as well as the Laurel House and Mission Kids provide these services that are so important to our community," said Toepel.
"We look forward to keeping our community safe," said Stephens. "It’s great for the community to see our government working together."