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Saratoga County urges VLT aid restoration

Saratoga County urges VLT aid restoration

City stands to lose $2.3 million, county $775,000, if VLT aid is cut
Saratoga County urges VLT aid restoration
Advertisement sign for Saratoga Casino and Hotel, shown near exit 11, in Round Lake, on Thursday, October 18, 2018.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Staff Photographer

SARATOGA COUNTY -- The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors has unanimously called for restoration of video lottery terminal aid that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed cutting from the 2021 state budget.

With the county at risk of losing about $775,000 in funding and the city of Saratoga Springs at risk of losing more than $2.3 million, supervisors said "the loss of such VLT Impact Aid will result in a loss to the county of critical public safety funding and could lead to a reduction in the provision of public safety services," and urged restoration of the funding.

The resolution was adopted unanimously at the county board's monthly meeting in Ballston Spa.

The resolution, which will be sent to Cuomo, state legislative leaders, and local state representatives, puts the county in line with city officials in fighting to restore the funding, which has been in place since 2006 as a benefit to the city and county for hosting the VLT facility at the Saratoga Casino Hotel.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, and state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, who represent the city and large parts of the county, have said they will work to get the funding restored as the Legislature reviews the budget prior to the April 1 approval deadline.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan and Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton testified at a local government budget hearing in Albany on Feb. 10, urging restoration of the money. The cut, they said, would be "a significant financial hardship."

Madigan said Wednesday that she plans to bring a similar formal resolution for restoring funding before the City Council on Tuesday. She also noted that she was at the state Capitol earlier this week to talk to state legislators about the issue.

The Cuomo administration, which is looking for ways to close a state budget gap that is projected to exceed $6 billion, has proposed cutting the aid on the grounds that the city and county receive benefits from the VLT gaming facilities that exceeds any higher costs they incur because of additional demands on police, fire and ambulance resources. The proposal would eliminate the aid to all upstate communities that receive the aid, while the city of Yonkers downstate would continue to receive $19 million in aid tied to Yonkers Raceway.

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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