YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers school officials are calling revenue generated at Empire City Casino for education a "godsend." Over the past five years the casino has provided more than $150 million for the district.
“About $20 million comes to Yonkers in host community aid,” Mayor Mike Spano said. “That is unique to us. Of all the seven tracks across the state, Yonkers is the only area to receive host community aid. That was something we fought for when plans for video terminals were approved.”
In all an average of $300 million in revenue from Empire City Casino goes to New York state each year, giving schools, specifically in Yonkers, some relief. In June, the casino generated a record of nearly $24 million.
“The funding from Yonkers racino has been a godsend,” Yonkers Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio said. “The additional funding has positively impacted the district and has continually bolstered and funded programs that may have otherwise been curtailed.”
Since Foundation Aid (basic state aid to schools) to Yonkers schools over the past five years has been frozen from the state, revenue sharing from the casino has offset increased fixed expenses in the Yonkers City School District. Those increased expenses include $18.8 million in salaries and $22.3 million in benefits over the five-year period. Not including host community aid, the district has received $98 million in revenue sharing over the five years to help with a budget that will be at $513,452,883 for the 2012-2013 school year.
Since opening in October 2006, Empire City has generated more than $1.5 billion for education in New York state. In addition, the casino has become the city’s largest private employer and highest taxpayer.
“New Yorkers are enjoying gaming and entertainment closer to home rather than traveling out of state,” said Empire City spokesperson Timothy Rooney Jr. “That directly benefits our teachers, students and residents.”
With the casino’s success for New York state schools, both the mayor and superintendent welcome increased aid.
“That will come if their expansion proposal is approved,” Spano said. “The idea is to add a hotel and convention center. That will not only increase revenue to the state and City of Yonkers, but also double a workforce of 1,500 people.”
“The district would welcome additional funding from the racino,” added Pierorazio. “Additional aid at this point in time would be extremely beneficial, especially when funding from the state and federal government is being reduced.”