County departments need a wake-up call that one of their biggest crutches to shore up funding gaps is gone, Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said Wednesday.
McConnaughay expanded a call she made last month for county departments to start considering budgets that don't rely on riverboat gambling proceeds to cover any shortfalls. McConnaughay said she's still getting weekly requests to use riverboat money for various needs.
A new report shows revenue is down at Elgin's Grand Victoria Casino by 24 percent compared to August 2010. The county is working off projections that it will receive about $5.5 million from the riverboat next year, one of the lowest totals ever. The new data means even that forecast may be too high. In its heyday, the riverboat sent about $12 million a year to the county's coffers.
"You're taking a huge hit," McConnaughay said. "This is the impact of the Des Plaines casino license. There's already no money in there for farmland preservation. If a Chicago casino goes through, we're going to get hit again. I just don't think there's any money to count on. This is an unstable, unreliable fund source."
Kane County currently uses riverboat proceeds to fund about $1 million in requests from area human service agencies and other community projects each year. The rest of the money is used in-house for programs such as drug court and Kane Kares, which provides support and education to first-time mothers.
Riverboat Subcommittee member Jesse Vazquez said all outside recipients of riverboat funds received the cash this year with a message that the money may not be there next year. McConnaughay said that was a smart move because 2013 may be the year there aren't enough riverboat funds to support outside agencies.
"We're not going to be able to help them at the same level that we did in the past," McConnaughay said.