Influx of casino cash good news for county

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UTICA — Oneida County’s pandemic-year finances got some rare good news recently as revenue from the Oneida Indian Nation has come in after it reopened much of its gaming operation.

The county has received about $6 million from the Nation covering the first two quarters of 2020, County Executive Anthony Picente told the Daily Sentinel. Under the 1993 gaming compact with new York state and a 2013 agreement settling taxing disputes among the state, the Oneida Indian Nation and Oneida and Madison Counties, the county gets a share of gaming revenue at Turning Stone Resort Casino and other Nation properties.

The county expected about $20 million for its $439 million 2020 budget, but none had been received after the Nation shut down gaming in mid-March as New York state imposed restrictions to try to halt the spread of COVID-19. The Nation resumed gaming operations June 10 with modifications that largely follow guidelines of New York state, including requiring masks or similar face coverings among patrons.

The county got about $3.7 million from the 25% of gaming-machine revenue the Nation sends to New York State, and the $2.5 million annual payment called for in the 2013 agreement, Picente said.

The total isn’t equal to what was received through this time last year, but it is significant help to the county’s cash flow, Picente said.

Sales tax receipts — the largest revenue source for the county — also remain down. The county has told towns and villages it will forward sales tax revenue it gets from the state, which collects it, in three increments a quarter rather than all at once.

“That’s going to continue without question through the rest of this year and most likely through the first quarter of next.”

Picente told county legislators in July he could not then rule out issuing revenue-anticipation bonds to generate cash to meet the county’s regular obligations.

“I speak to the controller and finance commissioner every day, and right now we’re OK. Were holding our own. It’s very tight. It’s the last thing I want to do.”

New COVID-19 cases remain low

Oneida County reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and 77 known active cases.

No new deaths were reported.

Nine county residents were hospitalized, and 690 people were quarantined.

Meanwhile, the five-county Mohawk Valley region again had the lowest rate of tests that turn out positive, at 0.4 percent, compared to 0.8 percent statewide, and lowest number of new cases per 100,000 people averaged over the previous seven days, 1.91. The state figure was 3.07.

Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Montana have been removed from New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. Guam has been added.

The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

The state’s rate of positive tests was below 1 percent for the 18th consecutive day, Cuomo announced. Two deaths were reported, in Broome and Montgomery counties.

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