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Daily Herald - Police upgrades among projects funded by Elgin gambling money

November 10, 2016 

By Elena Ferrarin 

Elgin's list of $31.4 million in proposed projects next year funded by riverboat money includes high-definition video cameras for police squad cars, replacing an aging pedestrian bridge at Lords Park, and painting and replacing lights at the Centre of Elgin's pool.

The city council, which began budget deliberations Wednesday, was told the proposed 2017 riverboat fund includes $33.3 million in revenues, including $21 million in working cash carry-over from previous years, and $31.4 million in expenses.

The city expects to get about $9.7 million in 2017 from its share of gambling and admission revenues generated by Grand Victoria Casino, senior management analyst Laura Valdez-Wilson said. The city also gets $1 million per year from leasing land to the casino, and about $200,000 from video gambling proceeds from various establishments.

Riverboat revenues reached a peak of $29.5 million in 2001 and were $15.4 million in 2012.

Proposed expenses for next year include $1.1 million to replace the police department's security system, $710,000 for new police vehicles, about $416,000 for new equipment for firefighters, $300,000 for tree replacement and $274,000 for improvements at the Hemmens Cultural Center, should the city council decide to move forward with plans for expansion.

Staff members are budgeting security upgrades to city hall, including a metal detector at the main entrance. The work is budgeted at $300,000 but likely will end up costing more, Valdez-Wilson said, adding the topic will be discussed in detail at a later date.

The riverboat fund also includes "just in case" items, like $3 million for development agreements at the auto mall on Randall Road. "If someone were to move in there and we have an incentive agreement with them, we have to have cash on hand," Valdez-Wilson said.

Like in previous years, the city is allocating $275,000 for economic development services to be provided by the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce's Elgin Development Group.

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