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Wed., Sep. 17
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Brasher makes plans for latest casino gaming check; wonders about status of future checks

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BRASHER FALLS - Brasher officials expect to soon receive $154,497.23 as their share of the first quarter of 2014 casino gaming compact funds, covering January through March.

But, Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said, how long they’ll continue receiving those checks is up in the air, as casino revenues as a whole continue to decline nationwide.

The town recently received a $153,895.98 check for the final quarter of 2013, covering October through December. They had received $198,357.78 for the previous quarter of July through September.

“Revenues are down about $40,000,” Mr. Dawson said.

However, their latest check will be a slight increase over the last quarter.

But, he suggested that, if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is successful in building more casinos around the state, local casino revenues could decline. There are also discussions about building a casino across the border in Cornwall, Ont., area in the next four years, which he said could further cut into revenues at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort..

“I don’t know how Hogansburg will do,” Mr. Dawson said. “If the numbers become saturated, everybody loses.”

That includes the town of Brasher.

“This casino money has been like a gift to us,” he said.

He said the land claims settlement between the state and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is also tied in to the success of the casino.

“The state pays out from their share. If their share dries up, guess what?” Mr. Dawson said.

For now, he said, councilmen need to discuss how to use their upcoming check. They have scheduled a special meeting for 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Brasher Municipal Building to talk about projects that could be covered under the funding. A resolution with planned projects must be sent to St. Lawrence County officials and then forwarded to Empire State Development for final approval of the expenditures. The funding must be used for some form of economic development.

Past monies have been used to pay for the town’s new highway garage on County Route 53, community events such as the Super Cruise In and Car Show and Tri-Town Summer Festival, a revolving loan fund for individuals interested in starting a business in Brasher, and for the local fire department and rescue squad.

“We have been traditionally giving the fire department and rescue squad something once a year,” the town supervisor said.

He also suggested that councilmen needed to begin thinking about using some of the funding for areas such as road maintenance, as recommended by Highway Superintendent Larry Hewlett.

“I think we need to keep our infrastructure,” he said.

After that, he said, it’s up in the air when another check will arrive. Checks are sent to the state about three months after the quarter ends, Mr. Dawson said. The state keeps 75 percent of the compact funds, while 25 percent is divided between St. Lawrence and Franklin counties and the towns of Brasher, Massena, Fort Covington and Bombay.

“We might get another check this year; we might not,” Mr. Dawson said.

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