ECGRA, gaming revenue debate continues

The future of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority and gaming revenue is still up in the air.

The Senate is discussing the budget and gaming revenue this week, however, a recent discussion is sparking controversy.

If ECGRA is ultimately dissolved, distributing gaming revenue would be put back into the hands of County Council.  While some County Council Members say the way things are now need to remain, others say there needs to be major changes.

Erie County Councilman, Fiore Leone, recently shared on Facebook his feelings on ECGRA.  We spoke with Leone Tuesday and he says ECGRA does do some good, but some things are wrong.  He says administrative costs are too high.  That's money that should be given back into the community. 

He says ECGRA was set up by Erie County Council to take the politics out of the grant giving, but Leone says because County Council Members appoint a person to represent them on the ECGRA Board; it's not taking the politics out of it.  

Leone says County Council needs more oversight in to the ECGRA Board, and that something needs to be done to refocus the purpose of ECGRA.

Senator Dan Laughlin says right now there is no update in where this bill stands, but he says they're working on it. 

Jay Breneman, County Council chairman, says, "ECGRA has a long track record of investing in important economic developments particularly entrepreneurial  and small business. But also the key non-profits in our region who have been adding to our economy by adding to the quality of life in our community."

"We have to realize that we need a system in place that takes politics out of decision making with investing these funds and the ensure that the money is leveraged with other dollars and is done in a responsible manner. ECGRA has done that."

[If County Council was in charge of gaming revenue], "100% of all those funds would be dispersed based on political decision making. While government does a good job here and there investing dollars particularly for programs and county services the county doesn't really have a strong track record of good economic development investment."

Fiore believes, "These are taxpayers money. It's something you don't take lightly. When I say that I think they over stepped their bounds, it's just exactly I feel about it."

Correction from story that ran earlier Tuesday - Executive Director of ECGRA Perry Wood make $91,500 a year. 


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