Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says online gaming revenue helped offset budget losses – Detroit Free Press

Detroit’s revenues are projected to return to pre-pandemic levels, in part, because of an increase in online gaming taxes, Mayor Mike Duggan told City Council members on Monday. 
Detroit’s budget took a major hit two years ago due to pandemic-related losses, including a decrease in income tax revenue from people no longer working in the city. 
But Duggan said online gaming helped offset some of the city’s losses while presenting his proposed $1.2-billion “return to normal” budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Online gaming brought in $26.6 million last year and is projected to bring $71.1 million for the 2022 fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to the office of the chief financial officer.
“In December 2019, the casinos went to Lansing and asked for legislation to allow internet gaming,” Duggan said. “We struck a deal, with the support of our Detroit delegation, that the city got a share of the Internet gaming…that Internet gaming revenue, which was new to us, has so far offset the losses of our income tax revenue.”
More: Online betting boosts Detroit’s casino tax haul to pre-pandemic levels
Councilman Fred Durhal III, who as a state representative said he helped make the push to allow online gaming revenues for Detroit, said it “tremendously” helped the city.
“We have the ability to capture those dollars,” Durhal told the Free Press. “During a pandemic, if they close, obviously people are not able to spend money and we are generating less revenue. But the ability to capture online created a stabilization or a safety net for us so we are not losing vital revenue for city services.”
While Duggan’s budget proposal requires City Council’s approval, the mayor expects to spend the city’s recurring and one-time revenues on restoring the pre-pandemic budget and investing in transit services, wages, protecting retiree pensions, blight removal, neighborhood services and more. 
Duggan proposed adding an additional $30 million toward its Retiree Protection Fund, which the city created as a strategy to meet pension obligations.
“Everybody here remembers what happened to our retirees and the way they were hit in bankruptcy,” Duggan said. “We have set aside now about $370 million. We’re proposing another $90 million this year. So this $460 million.”
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The $1.2 billion general fund budget breakdown includes more than $1.1 billion in recurring funds and $68.5 million in one-time spending. One-time funds are a surplus from the previous budget that were not spent, said Steve Watson, Detroit’s budget director.
A look into the proposed budget
The general fund budget, according to the city, would include:
Other items including spending $2.3 million for improvements of the Coleman A. Young International Airport and $10.7 million for parks and recreation improvements.
More details of the proposed budget can be viewed online.
Dana Afana is the Detroit city hall reporter for the Free Press. Contact Dana: dafana@freepress.com or 313-635-3491. Follow her on Twitter: @DanaAfana.

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