Why didn’t council seek public input on prohibiting casino?

Lock Haven City Council’s vote to prohibit any mini-casinos in the city is unfortunate in that it comes without council having gained any formal input from the public on the issue by way of a public hearing.

Wouldn’t it have been appropriate to hold a public hearing on the matter to gain citizens’ opinions before making a formal decision as council did this past Monday night?

Why must so many decisions in our governments be made in a vacuum?

Look, we don’t favor the expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania, as is now allowed because of the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf.

The current state budget relies heavily on much-expanded gambling revenue to pay the bills.

We just think it’s prudent for elected officials to seek voters’ and taxpayers’ opinions on such issues, social, financial or otherwise.

There’s certainly not enough formal public engagement through hearings and town hall-style meetings in Clinton County.

Decisions made in a vacuum tend to be made on limited perspective and information.

People are vehicles of information.

The new laws in Pennsylvania governing “mini-casinos” actually refers to them as satellite casinos as follows:

r Each of Pennsylvania’s 10 larger casinos would be able to bid on a satellite casino license allowing up to 750 slot machines and up to 50 table games at a facility that is not within 25 miles of another casino.

r Certain counties – those with the largest population centers – are also off-limits.

r Bidding for a satellite casino starts at $7.5 million, with a table games certificate costing an extra $2.5 million.

r License fees and taxes on gambling at the sites would go into the treasuries of local and state governments, as well public schools and economic and civic development projects.

r A municipality could choose to prohibit such an establishment inside its borders. (Just as Lock Haven Council has done.)

Mayor Bill Baney and Councilman Steve Stevenson voted against the resolution, with the mayor saying too many questions over the issue have not even been addressed yet.

We agree.

And it’s sad that the state legislative leaders rushed this bill through amid the budget debacle and then only gave municipalities until Dec. 31 to decide if they’ll allow casinos.

Figures.

Our well-paid, secretive lawmakers in Pennsylvania sure like closed doors.

Voting locally for the prohibition were Councilwoman Sara Stringfellow, and Councilmen Rick Conklin, Jonathan Bravard, Doug Byerly and Ted Forbes.

Had council held a public hearing on the issue prior to a formal vote on the resolution, it’s very likely — considering the mindset here — that the majority opinion of council would be confirmed.

But it looks like we’ll never know.

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