Originally Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013, 9:00 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 24, 2013, 9:25 pm

County to receive about $100K from Jumer's

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

A check for almost $100,000 is on the way to Rock Island County, almost a year after the money was promised by the owners of Jumer's Casino and Hotel.

The money likely will be used to buy a new squad car for the sheriff's department and a new communications system for the county jail, according to Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek.

At a news conference on March 2 of last year, attended by county officials and local state lawmakers, Jumer's announced it was establishing a special fund to assist the county. The agreement was the result of negotiations between former county board chairman Jim Bohnsack, Jumer's and state lawmakers.

Some county board members, including Steve Meersman, D-Moline, had called for a head tax to be imposed on Jumer's, with the money to go to the county. That would have required new state legislation.

Mr. Meersman said he's pleased Jumer's did agree to make a contribution to the county. But he'd like to see a long-term commitment instead of an agreement that could change from year-to-year.

"Something is better than nothing," Mr. Meersman said. "I'm a little disappointed it has taken so long for Jumer's to put this into effect."

Jumer's spokesman Bill Renk said talk of a new tax being imposed on the casino had nothing to do with the decision to set up the fund for the county.

The prospect of legislation to levy a tax on casinos for county government passing the state legislature was too remote for a new tax to have been a possibility, Mr. Renk said.

The delay in getting money from the casino to the county has been caused by the length of time it took to establish a tax-exempt organization through which the funds will pass, Mr. Renk said.

Jumer's gives charitable donations directly to other local organizations, Mr. Renk said, and the decision to form a nonprofit organization to assist the county was made by Delaware North, which owns Jumer's.

The county has yet to receive any money from the new Jumer's fund, but Mr. Renk said he expected a check to be cut today.

Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd said he was grateful for any assistance from Jumer's. "We never expected anything from them," Sheriff Boyd said.

Jumer's is part of the city of Rock Island, which by state law gets a cut of casino revenues. But some county board members had called for the casino to contribute to the county because it puts a burden on county services.

"Since the casino arrived, there has been an increase in demand to county services ranging from the courthouse to the jail," Mr. Meersman said. "While gaming has its good points, it also has its bad points."