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Towns want piece of video lottery pie

January 30, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The mayors of the five towns in Jefferson County asked Thursday for a slice of the video lottery funds that Jefferson County will receive when the Charles Town Races reopens.

Under the law allowing video lottery, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Jefferson County government. Officials have estimated that the county could receive $1.25 million.

On Thursday, Charles Town Mayor Randolph Hilton asked the County Commissioners to turn over 20 percent of the video lottery funds to the municipal governments.

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Hilton said the towns' populations make up about 24 percent of the county's population.

The town governments would divide the 20 percent up on a formula based on each town's population, Hilton said.

"Our notion is this would be a fair way to distribute it," Hilton said.

No decision was made by the County Commissioners on Thursday about the issue. County Commissioners President James G. Knode said the idea is worth discussing and it will be brought up at future meetings.

County Commissioner R. Gregory Lance said that he thinks the county should spend the money on capital projects.

Lance and County Commissioner James K. Ruland said that it would not be a good idea to rely on the funds for long-term expenses because it is unknown how much money will be received and how long the funds will last.

"We should treat these dollars as windfall dollars," Ruland said.

Ruland said Hancock County, W.Va., which has received money from video gambling there, also gives $20,000 to each of its five fire and ambulance companies and has used the funds as "seed" money for its 911 center.

The other towns represented at the meeting were Ranson, Harpers Ferry, Bolivar and Shepherdstown.

Hilton said town governments need an increase in funding to provide all the needed services, especially in Charles Town and Ranson, that will result from an increase in traffic and people associated with the track.

Penn National, the new owners of the track, are expected to reopen the racing oval in April.

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