Discussions regarding a grant program began in January, and on Tuesday the Cuyahoga County Council in Ohio voted to create the Community Development Supplemental Grant program, with an agreed upon $1 million annual contribution from casino tax revenue for community development projects.
Through the grant program, which is intended to complement projects funded through other sources, up to $50,000 of that would be provided per grant for various projects including senior centers, parks, and community master plans. Of the approximately $7.3 million in casino taxes the county receives annually, the money has primarily been used to fund economic development projects, with approximately $17.8 million loaned from the $23.7 million collected from July 2012 to December last year, according to cleveland.com. Officials say most of the money loaned from the fund has to be repaid.
Projects outside of Cleveland have been able to be funded through loans by the council since July 2015; the new grant program would enable all municipalities and community development corporations that are eligible to be recipients.
Dave Greenspan, the member of the Council who introduced the grant program in January, said in a statement after the meeting on Tuesday, that the grant program “is an excellent opportunity to meet the need for more community-based development projects,” and, “Casino revenue is a flexible funding source that should be used to improve quality of life throughout the county. This program is uniquely positioned to provide targeted benefit to residents in collaboration with our urban neighborhoods and suburban communities,” according to the news outlet.
Recommendations for approval will be made to the council after the county’s department of development evaluates the grant applications. The same process used for the Community Development Block Grant program will be used to administer the grant program in conjunction with the federally funded program. Along with Greenspan, Councilman Anthony Hairston, along with five fellow Council members co-sponsored the legislation.
In other Ohio news this month, performance was up for the state’s seven racinos in May, while the four casinos in the state reported declines, according to the most recent revenue report.