The city of Danville has hired a firm to conduct a study on how to invest new revenues from a casino development if one were to open here.
PFM, a financial advisory firm based in Philadelphia, will begin conducting the $74,375 study within the next two weeks, said Danville City Manager Ken Larking.
The Danville Regional Foundation will pay half the study's cost and the city will pick up the remainder of the tab.
PFM is the same firm that performed a $350,000 multi-year financial forecast for the city about two years ago, as well as a $175,000 study for Danville Public Schools.
"They did a great job with that previous study," Larking said Tuesday. "Not only did they look at how we could be more efficient, they also looked at new investments to improve our long-term sustainability. I felt like they would already be good at taking what they learned in the past and build on that to help guide the community in making investments if the new revenue becomes a reality."
Of the $350,000 for the city's financial forecast study by the National Resource Network, Danville paid $62,500 and the remainder was paid for with grants.
PFM was a subcontractor for the National Resource Network on the city's study as well as for a $175,000 study for Danville Public Schools. The school division paid $40,000 and the city paid $22,500 for the study, while a foundation grant covered $87,500, and a Make It Happen Grant from the Danville Regional Foundation covered the remaining $25,000.
Danville Regional Foundation President and CEO Clark Casteel pointed out that the casino revenue study will be third time that the foundation has matched city funding for such an endeavor with PFM. The foundation provided money for the city financial forecast analysis and that for the schools.
"That all made perfect sense to us," Casteel said of providing money for the casino revenue study. "We are always happy to partner with our partners who want to think strategically. We commend the city for thinking strategically about it."
The city applied for the money from the foundation on July 7 and "and we approved it July 15," Casteel said.
Danville Economic Development Director Corrie Bobe said the study is a "responsible next step for the city to take" to get a better idea of how to use potential casino revenue — especially when it comes to possibly funding other projects.
"There are a number of projects I'm sure the community holds in great value that we need to consider," Bobe said. "This study will help provide better guidance on which projects to focus on."
An advisory committee including community leaders will be set up to guide the study process, Larking said. Town hall meetings and a community survey will be offered for the public to give thoughts on how to invest the money.
The study should take about three or four months to complete, Larking said.
It's helpful to hire an independent firm to examine what to do with the money, he said. It is more efficient than hiring a city employee to handle such a narrow subject, Larking said.
"It's engaging the private sector to help us accomplish the task," he said.
Danville voters will decide in November whether to allow a casino to open in the city.
If voters approve a casino in the city, Caesars Entertainment, based in Paradise, Nevada, would be expected to invest more than $400 million in a casino project at the the former Dan River Inc. Schoolfield site in Danville and create 1,300 jobs with competitive benefits packages and average pay between $35,000 and $47,000 annually.
The company has plans to build a facility with 500 hotel rooms, a 35,000-square-foot conference center, a 2,500-seat live entertainment venue, restaurants and bars, 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games, 16 poker tables and a sportsbook to wager on various sports competitions.
The project would be expected to bring in $34 million in annual gaming tax revenues for Danville after three years of operations, Larking said.
The project is expected to be complete in 2023 and is anticipated to generate 900 construction jobs.
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