The big checks were on display Thursday as Live Casino and Hotel and Anne Arundel County officials announced a nearly $19.6 million list of what its share of casino money will pay for this year.
From a new armored car for county police to money to support field trips so school children can learn about snap circuits, the money is all spent on government programs and community organizations within a 3-mile area around the casino. That radius dips into Severn, Fort George G. Meade and Hanover.
Awards have been given since June 2012 and this year’s amount, the largest since the awards were started, brings the total value to more than $100 million.
“This is really our company’s favorite day of the year,” said Joe Weinberg, managing partner of The Cordish Cos., which owns the casino. “We have the ability to sit back and reflect.”
Thursday’s event brought together grant recipients and community leaders to celebrate the money. The Anne Arundel County Local Development Council is an advisory body that recommends how the county should distribute the money.
That money represents 4.51 percent of total revenues generated by video lottery terminals at Live Casino. The uses of the funds have to fall within infrastructure improvements, facilities, public safety, sanitation, economic and community development, and other public services and improvements.
The largest award was about $6.4 million given to the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. Fire Chief Allan Graves said his department has used previous local impact money to buy a new ladder truck.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department was awarded about $3.68 million, which will go toward buying a new armored truck and funding youth initiatives. Police Chief Timothy Altomare thanked the county, development council and casino for the funding.
And he found some space to brag about the police’s initiatives for county youth.
“We’ve been able to start up our youth activities program for the first time in 20 years,” Altomare said. “This year we have reconnected with kids, we are out in the communities, we are coaching and mentoring the kids, helping with homework. We are doing everything we can to reconnect with kids and help them become more whole citizens and understand our relationship with the community is a positive one.”
Smaller grants were given to local organizations such as the National Electronics Museum. The Linthicum museum received $25,000 that will be used to fund field trips for third- and fourth-graders.
“We teach them how to make snap circuits,” said Mike Simons, the museum’s director.
Thursday’s celebration of impact grants comes just days after the Anne Arundel County Council approved a payment in lieu of taxes bill that traded up to $36 million in property taxes for a larger convention center near the casino.
The bill waives up to $1.2 million in property taxes a year for 30 years in exchange for $1 a year and expanding the casino company’s proposed convention center from 1,400 seats to 4,000. The county also would get to use the center for free throughout the agreement. It was approved by a 5-2 vote. Councilman Chris Trumbauer, D-Annapolis, and Jerry Walker, R-Crofton, voted against the bill.
County Executive Steve Schuh said the agreement would benefit the county because it would bring more attractions and allow for Anne Arundel school graduations to be held in the county. It also could benefit the local impact grants as well.
As the casino’s revenues grow, so too would the grants, he said.
“It's their job to make money and create jobs,” Schuh said.
The Community Support Grants include: