Bar: This is photograph of artist rendering of a center bar and cafe proposed in a new Rocksino by Hard Rock. Staff photo by Howard Greninger
Bar: This is photograph of artist rendering of a center bar and cafe proposed in a new Rocksino by Hard Rock. Staff photo by Howard Greninger
Vigo County commissioners and other officials on Tuesday discussed a proposed local development agreement, which is one of the state requirements for a proposed Terre Haute casino.

The proposed agreement would pay 3 percent of adjusted gross receipts, which Spectacle Entertainment Vice President John Keeler said is “bets minus payouts.”

That would equal about $3 million based on $100 million adjusted gross receipts.

Additionally, the proposed agreement calls for a payment equal to 3 percent of the company’s net commission received from any sports wagering vendor.

The payments, according to the proposed agreement, would be made monthly.

Under the proposed agreement, the Vigo County Board of Commissioners would have the authority to enter into and perform the local government obligations.

The agreement would establish, at the cost of the casino owner, the Vigo County Community Improvement Foundation Inc.

That foundation would be an Indiana not-for-profit corporation “for the purpose of supporting the City of Terre Haute and Vigo County Community Plan, as it may be amended and revised from time to time.”

The foundation would be governed by five directors, each of whom must be a registered voter in the county.

Members would include one member of the Terre Haute City Council appointed by the mayor of Terre Haute; one member of the Vigo County Council appointed by the president of the Vigo County Board of Commissioners; one member appointed by the president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce; and two members appointed by Spectacle Jack Limited Liability Corporation, the casino ownership group.

Keeler told commissioners if the casino is sold, the two owner members would no longer be on the foundation board. The two slots would then be filled, one by the mayor of Terre Haute and the second by the president of the county commissioners.

Keeler said the agreement is to support a local community plan put forth by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.

Keeler told commissioners Spectacle Jack LLC, as part of the local development agreement, will try to maximize its use of unionized labor and pay prevailing rates for construction of the casino and any future projects to the extent possible. The company, according to the draft agreement, also will try to use local suppliers and vendors to support operations of the casino.

Every five years the county and casino company will review market conditions affecting the operation and maintenance of the casino, per the proposed agreement. Either the county or the company could ask for a review before the five-year mark in the event of a significant change to market, legislative or operational conditions.

Any disputes would be settled by binding arbitration in Vigo County in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association, according to the proposed agreement.

In the event of a sale, the casino company would be allowed to assign its rights or obligations under the agreement to its successor.

Commissioners will again review the local development agreement on Monday, with all three commissioners present. Commissioner Brendan Kearns was not present at Tuesday’s meeting. A vote of the commissioners is planned on Monday.

Monday also is the deadline for applications for a casino license before the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Concerns expressed

Kristin Craig, president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, said the group that reviewed the proposed agreement included herself, County Commissioner President Brad Anderson, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, Terre Haute City Council President Martha Crossen and Vigo County Council President Aaron Loudermilk.

The group met several times, Craig said, including twice with representatives from Spectacle including principal investor and vice president Greg Gibson and Keeler.

Vigo County Council member Lisa Spence-Bunnett and Charlie Williams, president of the Taxpayers Association of Vigo County, after the meeting each voiced concerns over how the local agreement was developed.

Both Spence-Bunnett and Williams said they support the casino.

However, Williams said the Taxpayers Association reviewed about 10 other examples of local development agreements, none of which had casino owner representatives on the board.

After the meeting, Spectacle’s Keeler said each local agreement is unique.

The “Taxpayers Association is all about information,” said Williams, “and from what I can see, this proposal going forward is not steep in public input, and I think it should be.”

Spence-Bunnett said she would like to see a broader public awareness of the agreement, including a “comparison to what other communities have arranged for.”

She also called for “a broader group of local officials than have been involved so far” to participate in discussions about the agreement.

“We just want the best agreement for the community,” Williams said.

Said the chamber’s Craig, “Do I wish we would’ve had more time to consider the process or take other steps? Yes. However, I do not believe it would’ve changed the end result.

“This agreement is a win for our community in that it allows a solid revenue stream for us to utilize in whatever way we feel is best,” Craig said.

“Ours was a weird process because we had a referendum to pass and then less than 30 days to get an LDA (local development agreement) executed,” Craig told the Tribune-Star, apparently referring to the Dec. 2 deadline for casino operators to submit their applications to the state’s gaming commission.

“My thought was by those people (who worked on the agreement) being elected officials, they are representing the voices of those they were elected by and helped put together this agreement. I feel like it was a good process.”

Craig said the non-profit foundation would act in accordance with the Chamber of Commerce’s community plan, adding the chamber held about eight different forums and considered 1,300 survey responses and has on-going groups and task forces for people to comment on what the chamber is doing.

“I am committed to continuing to make that community plan a public process,” Craig said. “I think it is a situation where there is a public element to it, just not exactly what some thought it should be.”

Another concern

Andre Kummerow, a member of Citizens of Better Government in Vigo County, said he was concerned that a new casino’s assessed value would be contained within a tax increment finance district.

Kummerow suggested the county could seek to have an agreement that put some income generated in the TIF district toward the Vigo County School Corp.

Kylissa Miller, administrator for the Vigo County Council, said the school corporation gets funding from a base tax rate when the TIF district was formed. However, the school corporation would not receive any new tax funds from new assessed valuation from a casino.

Miller, after the meeting, said the school corporation could benefit from additional property tax revenue from its newly passed eight-year operating funds referendum, as well as from the school corporation’s applicable portion of income taxes generated by any new jobs.
© 2020 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.