Earlier this week, reports published by the New York State Gaming Commission highlighted lagging revenue, behind projections filed with the state prior to del Lago Resort & Casino’s construction.
The $440 million casino was billed as a shot of economic energy into an economy struggling to catch. For Tyre, as well as Seneca County, it also meant additional revenues to operate local municipalities.
The report indicated that gaming revenues, after seven months of operation were $88 million. Developers estimated that first-year revenue at the casino would reach $263 million. The difference is a significant one, and something that draws a lot of concern for some local residents — who were troubled about the lagging figures.
On Wednesday, local officials responded to request for comment from FingerLakes1.com who sought to answer a simple question: For the folks who are tasked with operating Town and County budgets on a daily basis in Seneca County — is the lagging revenue a concern?
Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Shipley (R-Waterloo) said speaking for the board that they remain confident about 2017 gaming commission payments. “Seneca County actually forecasted 2017 ‘host county’ revenue at $1.5 million. To date, the County has received $933,673 from the New York State Gaming Commission as our portion of two quarters of Casino operation payments.”
The Chairman added that the first fiscal quarter of operation for the casino was cut short, due to a February 1st opening. Beyond dollars-and-cents, Seneca County residents also accounted for more than 45 percent of the initial 1,600 jobs at the facility.
The Chamber of Commerce spoke to some of the goals in bringing a facility like del Lago to Seneca County. “The goals for developing a casino within Seneca County were to: encourage more visitation to our community (through world-class entertainment and recreation amenities), create significant employment opportunities for our workforce (both temporary construction and long-term operation) and spur the overall growth of our economy (by serving as a catalyst for future development as well as through tax contributions).”
Jeff Shipley, President of the Seneca County Chamber added, “To date, each of these criterion criterion have already been successfully addressed.” He called it a “remarkable accomplishment” given the limited amount of time the casino has been in full operation.
He downplayed the projections issued before the casino opened adding, “As any local business owner or executive can attest, profit margins and projected earnings represent a moving target that requires management to continually scale efficiencies in order to realize their expectations.”
Shipley said the community was fortunate to have del Lago operating in Tyre.
Tyre Town Supervisor Ron McGreevy agreed. “The Finger Lakes Region, Seneca County and especially the Town of Tyre is very fortunate to have the del Lago Resort and Casino located here. The Town of Tyre has suffered with the highest tax rate in Seneca County for decades.”
He continued, “Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge which owns well over one third of our town contributes very little to our tax base. Revenue received from the del Lago gaming license allowed us to reduce Town of Tyre property taxes by 50 percent for 2017 (a tax rate which is still higher than most other towns in Seneca County).”
McGreevy said several roads in Tyre were re-paved, which were in desperate need of attention. He said many other infrastructure improvements will be necessary as these revenues continue to come to the town.
It isn’t just revenue for Tyre that has the supervisor excited, though. “The number of new jobs brought to this area by del Lago alone is incredible.” He added, “The closing of the Seneca Army Depot, Willard Pyschiatric Center, GTE Sylvania, Seneca Falls Machine among others has devastated the economy in this area.”
The Town of Tyre now has a new Byrne Dairy Convenience Store opened, Finger Lakes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership and PineView Circle affordable housing complex currently under construction, and other new development is on the horizon, according to the supervisor.
All three officials noted that smart planning and sensible leadership would be necessary for the entire community to continue growing.