Regional Community Development News – May 31, 2011

Note: First daily post of news. Delicious tags included. 

1. Ill. gambling expansion threatens Hammond's $36 million casino tax revenue

The city of Hammond's budget is boosted each year by about $36 million in casino tax revenue. That money is in danger after Illinois state lawmakers approved plans to build casinos in Chicago and its suburbs.

Similar efforts have failed in years past, but the Illinois General Assembly authorized a plan Tuesday for a casino in Chicago, two in the suburbs and slot machines at O'Hare and Midway airports.

It's not clear if Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign the bill. He has criticized portions of it during past public appearances.
Hammond's 2011 budget uses $36 million of casino-related revenue.

That revenue has been "steady and predictable," City Controller Bob Lendi said.

Of that, $3.5 million goes to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, $900,000 to the Regional Bus Authority, and more than $1.2 million for costs associated with buying and closing the River Park Apartments.


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2. Regional campuses reject Grattan Institute report | The Australian

"Universities are obviously significant contributors to the regional development," Hal Swerissen said of La Trobe University's four non-metropolitan campuses in Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura.

Professor Swerissen, La Trobe's pro vice-chancellor (regional), said the dynamics of regional universities were more complex than suggested by the recent, contentious Grattan report.

Investing in Regions: Making a Difference compared towns with campuses to centres of similar size but without campuses, measuring university participation and graduate retention as well as economic contributions.

"It's a problem with high-level aggregate data," Professor Swerissen said of the generalised conclusions. "Outcomes in different regional communities vary depending on local criteria. I agree in broad terms the data says the coast is growing [but] I'm not sure I agree that therefore every inland city is not worth investing in."

3. “Invest in local democracy and regional development”, CoR President tells Tunisian government

Democracy and regional economic development in the Mediterranean go hand in hand, Committee of the Regions (CoR) President Mercedes Bresso underlined today. Joining EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani and Tunisian Industry Minister Abdelaziz Rassaa at the CoR, President Bresso welcomed upgraded EU aid for the Arab spring as an “investment in democracy”.

The double challenge of consolidating democracy and promoting regional economic development in the Southern Mediterranean was the topic of a conference in Brussels today. The event was organised at the CoR headquarters in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities (ARLEM). CoR President Mercedes Bresso stated: “The Committee of the Regions affirms its unconditional support for the reform processes that must result in true democratisation and stability. Durable peace relies on sound economic growth, and vice versa. ...

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4. InsideHalton Article: Strong stance by Region necessary

Traffic gridlock has been a problem in the GTA for decades and only promises to get worse with the anticipation of three million new residents in the coming decades.

That’s why the Province is taking steps now to implement a future transportation strategy, including the proposed Mid-Pen highway.

Wednesday, the Region’s planning and public works committee approved a staff report that takes a strong stance against the highway.

The report states while accommodating new growth in the area is necessary, “staff will not support alternatives that would establish a new facility crossing the Niagara Escarpment.”

The report is expected to go before regional council this week.

With the protection of our Niagara Escarpment World Bisophere Reserve in mind, the Region is right to take such a stance.

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5. Monitoring is key for water source quality

Expected growth along Georgia’s coast is leading members of the Coastal Regional Water Resource Planning Council to monitor water usage, and possibly look for alternative water sources.

Phil Odom with the Coastal Regional Water Resource Planning Council and chair of the Liberty Regional Water Resource Council explained ... that it is important to monitor the quality of water sources throughout the region, especially over the next 40 years.

“The science given to the Coastal Georgia Regional Water Planning Council in preparing best management techniques for the statewide water and conservation plan for 2012 has led me to personally believe that our land use and surface water practices of the past 180 years, and our withdrawal of underground water over the past 130 years, has led to degradation of both natural water supply systems,” Odom said during the club’s weekly meeting at the Richmond Hill City Center.
6. “Uncertain” Future for Lake Tahoe |

... A bill is being considered that would pull Nevada out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact with California. Supporters of SB-271 say they're trying to protect private property rights.

Jean Stoess, ... says she's heard that argument many times before, when she served on the board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and she maintains the issue is much larger than that.
Sierra Club vice-chair Dave Hornbeck says if Nevada does end up pulling out of the compact, he fears for the future of the lake - ...

Some local governments hope to improve their tax base as a result of the measure, but Hornbeck says the federal government should withhold funding if Nevada leaves the compact, which he says has protected the lake for more than four decades.

"It's a bi-state compact, passed in 1969 by two Republican governors, Ronald Reagan of California and Paul Laxalt of Nevada, to protect the clarity of Lake Tahoe and its pristine blue waters - and it has been able to do that."

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7. Lorain, Sheffield consider revenue sharing - The Chronicle-Telegram - Lorain County, Ohio

Lorain and Sheffield are poised to share revenue from a joint economic development zone between the two communities.

“This is a prime example of regionalism,” Service Director Robert Gilchrist said after a May 23 public hearing on the zone by the City Council. “Not just talking about it, but actual action.”

If approved by Council, which is expected to vote on the zone in the next few weeks, Lorain would provide waste water services to businesses in a 45-acre region running north on Colorado Avenue on the east side. Sheffield would be responsible for all construction and maintenance of the sewer facilities in the village.

“Selling sanitary (sewer service) to the village is extremely profitable and it bears no cost on the city,” said ... representative of KR Irish Ltd., the limited liability corporation ... interested in moving into the zone.

“All we’re trying to do is promote development, jointly (and) equitably between two communities, the village and the municipality.”

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