Pat Buck-Hanks informed the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday Aug. 14 that the petition to call for a referendum on allowing a casino in Cherokee County has the signatures needed.
Bonnie Ebel, county auditor, requested that Buck-Hanks consult with her before turning in the petition so that timelines can be observed. Once the petition is turned in, the clock begins ticking on requirements prior to the special election.
Buck-Hanks distributed to the supervisors a breakdown of how much a casino in Worth County paid to public entities and civic organizations from revenues earned during its first partial year of operation, from April 4 to Dec. 31, 2006.
Worth County Development Authority (WCDA) is the nonprofit sponsor of the license of the Diamond Jo Worth Casino. The WCDA distributed $2,465,000 to public entities and non-profit organizations from the revenues for the first partial year (April 4 -- Dec. 31) of casino operation. Of this, 7 percent went to the county's general fund, 46.5 percent went to education, 23.25 percent went to WCDA board grants, and 23.25 percent went to Worth County Trustee grants.
Buck-Hanks estimated that a casino would hire about 300 employees, with a casino professional association promising starting wages of at least federal minimum wage plus 25 percent.
Buck-Hanks noted that even if a referendum is approved, there is no guarantee that a gambling license will be approved for Cherokee County. Currently new gambling licenses are being granted.
There was no action on the matter requested or expected.
Following Buck-Hanks' informational presentation, there was a discussion about special county elections.
The last special election, held to elect a county attorney, cost the county $5,507 and another would cost about the same.
Ebel explained that a special election could not be tied in with any other upcoming elections since the next regular countywide election to be held will be in November of 2008.
The school board elections held throughout the state on Sept. 11 are not considered countywide since school districts each have their own ballot and school districts do not follow county lines. Sometimes a person's polling place for a school election is not even in the county where the person resides.
The town elections in November do not include people who live in the country, outside of any city limits. Even the primary elections next June cannot be used for a countywide election since a primary vote is a partisan election that does not include people who don't belong to a political party.
It was noted that the county might want to hold a bond vote for a new county jail sometime soon. There was some amused speculation that such a combination could have an unintended symbolic association.