No casinos or tax hike in Pennsbury

Those people looking for some casino gaming action can bypass Pennsbury Township, at least for the time being.

Supervisors voted 3-0 Wednesday night to prohibit mini-casinos in the township. The action follows a state law that allows major casinos to open Category 4 casinos. Category 4 casinos are those "with not less than 300 or more than 750 slot machines and gaming tables," according to the letter sent by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.

Act 42 authorizes 10 of those casinos in Pennsylvania. Larger Category 1, 2 or 3 casinos would operate the Category 4 facilities. Municipalities that allow the smaller facilities would be able to receive up to 50 percent of the 4 percent local assessment fee. However, the letter said, "[T]he most the host municipality could receive in any one year would be 50 percent of its 2016-17 budget."

Despite the revenue, Pennsbury's Board of Supervisors opted to activate a provision of the law that denies operation of such a casino within township boundaries.

Supervisor Aaron McIntyre said having such a casino would go against the character of the township.

Supervisor Wendell Fenton added, "If at some point it turns out that it would be advantages to have such a casino, we have the right to rescind the resolution."

While Pennsbury won't be taking in any extra revenue from gambling, it also won't be taking in any extra property tax from residents and business owners. Supervisors adopted a preliminary budget that holds the line on taxes at the current 1.49 mills. No tax increase. (A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.)

The budget — available for review at the township building or on its website — is balanced with revenue and expenses expected to be $1.64 million.

The largest portion of revenue — $275,000 — does come from property tax. The largest portion of expenditures — $267,825 — comes from salaries and another $228,883 being the contribution to Longwood Fire Co.

Pennsbury is also paying down debt. Supervisor Charles "Scotty" Scottoline said the 2001 and 2004 notes would be paid off by the end of the year. That leaves only the debt for a loan to buy the 23 acres around the township building — purchased from Toll Bros. three years ago for open space.

Fenton said even that amount is being paid down, funded through the township's open space tax.

Supervisors will vote on the final budget during their Dec. 13 meeting.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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