Gaming commission may lift cap on gifts

December 12, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The $50,000 cap on single gifts to nonprofit organizations by the Washington County Gaming Commission may be lifted to lessen the impact a change in the distribution of money has caused some agencies, according to a state legislator.

Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington, said Tuesday he believes the delegation will initiate discussions with gaming commission members now that money is only being dispersed once a year instead of twice.

"I have full faith in their discretion to distribute those funds," McKee said. "If they don't feel the cap is necessary, I'd like to see it removed."


McKee's comments followed word from REACH, an agency that relies on gaming funds, that it has been dealt a blow by the change.

With an average $70,000 annual contribution in two semi-annual dispersals dropping to $40,000, REACH caregivers are looking at a $30,000 deficit since there are no further dispersals until August 2003.

"We will most likely be facing financial difficulties by early spring 2003 due to the deficit and an increase in the need for emergency motel placements, utility bills and eviction prevention for local families," said Terri Baker, executive director of REACH, which stands for Religious Efforts to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

Baker said that this year's high numbers of homeless have taken advantage of the shelter.

The shelter opened in October and moves around the community to various churches.

The shelter will be located at St. John's Episcopal Church through Dec. 15, when it will move to the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren Dec. 15-22.

A similar shortfall hit the Community Free Clinic in Hagers-town, which saw gaming funding drop from about $100,000 per year to $53,000.

REACH and the clinic are traditionally among the top recipients of the gaming money.

Both agencies are appealing to their regular donors, and REACH plans to hold a 2003 dinner featuring international food, entertainment and a silent auction.

The Feb. 1 event will be held at Tri-State Fellowship, 13153 Cearfoss Pike.

A silent auction will be held, and there will be international dinner stations where foods may be sampled by patrons paying $35 per person.

In addition to the single tickets, tables for eight may be secured for $260. Advertisements can be bought for the program.

For more information on REACH and the upcoming fund-raiser, call 301-733-2371.

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