Municipal Bulletin Board
(from the January 2005 Maine Townsman)

CASH MANAGEMENT

The annual Cash Management workshop, sponsored by the Maine Municipal Tax Collectors & Treasurers Association, will be held February 23 at the MMA building in Augusta.

This workshop introduces municipal officials to the practices and principle of cash management. The format includes a combination of lecture and hands-on training. Participants prepare a cash flow analysis, develop an investment strategy, calculate interest (on unpaid taxes), and determine safe investments for municipal funds.

James Bennett, city administrator of Lewiston, is the instructor.

The registration fee for MMTCTA members is $45; for non-members, the fee is $55. For more information, contact MMA’s Training & Affiliate office, 1-800-452-8786.

STATES CASH IN ON AMERICA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH GAMBLING

High rollers once had to venture to the desert in Nevada or the beach in Atlantic City, N.J., to find legalized roulette, slot machines or blackjack. Now gamblers can try their luck in more than 440 high-stakes casinos that stretch from the bayous of Louisiana to the evergreens of the Pacific Northwest.

Even wholesome, conservative Middle America is a mecca for slots and poker fanatics. Forty riverboat and dockside casinos lure gamblers to gangplanks in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri. More than 400 Native American-run casinos operate in 23 states, from Connecticut to California. And lotteries, once an oddity found in just seven states, are now the norm in 41 states, with Oklahoma the latest to catch Lotto fever.

Cash-strapped states are pulling in billions of dollars in revenue from all the gambling and state-sponsored lotteries.

States made $14 billion in profits on the $45 billion in lottery tickets they sold in fiscal 2003, according to the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries, a trade group that represents state lotteries. Non-Indian casinos pulled in $26.5 billion in revenues and paid more than $4.3 billion in taxes in 2003 to the 11 states and localities that allow them to operate. Indian-owned casinos in 29 states brought in $16.7 billion in revenues in 2003 and made $759 million in payments to state and local governments.

These days, the hottest craze is to bring slot or video-poker machines to dog and horse racetracks. The country’s 23 “racinos” already draw crowds in seven states and more are on the drawing board for Maine and Pennsylvania. Racinos forked over $776 million in taxes in a half-dozen states.

(reprinted, in part, from Stateline.org article by Pamela Prah, January 6, 2005)

SAVE YOUR QUARTERS: STATES BUILD MORE TOLL ROADS

States are taking the free out of freeway. Toll roads are booming because gas tax revenues are woefully inadequate to pay for constructing and improving highways.

California, Florida and Texas are adding toll lanes or turning existing lanes into pay-as-you-go roads. Georgia is debating charging a toll on an existing road, and Colorado and Virginia are considering toll lanes in sections of interstates.

In an emerging trend, some states are turning away from strict public financing of new roadways and forging partnerships in which private companies build and operate a toll road in return for long-term toll revenue. Maryland has looked at teaming up with private firms to build express toll lanes, and Texas is building a toll road between San Antonio and Austin in partnership with a private company.

Indiana Gov.-elect Mitch Daniels (R) is even considering a plan to sell the state toll road to private interests to generate billions of dollars.

States are looking at tolls as a revenue source because of the declining vigor of the gas tax, but other factors also are driving the appeal of tolls. A federal transportation bill would give states more tolling authority. In addition, toll roads have state transportation officials seeing dollar signs.

Congress is expected to consider a federal transportation bill this year that includes a provision backed by the Bush administration to let states add more tolls to parts of interstate highways.

Already 2,800 miles of interstate highways are tolled with federal approval, and the number of miles with tolls has increased steadily since 1993, according to a report by the Federal Highway Administration. The proposal before Congress would require states to show that tolling would be the most inexpensive or timely way to fix a road.

Even as several states look to toll roads for the financial answer to the gas tax crunch, transportation researchers are searching for alternative ways to fund highway improvements. One idea: tax people based on how many miles they drive.

(reprinted, in part, from Stateline.org article by Kathleen Murphy,, January 10, 2005)

PER CAPITA, NEW ANTI-TERROR FUNDS STILL FAVOR WYOMING

The federal government is targeting more homeland security funds to high-risk urban areas this year, but more anti-terrorism money still is being spent to protect each resident in the most sparsely populated states than in populous ones.

Wyoming, the state with the fewest residents, once again will receive the most funding per capita to fight terrorism in fiscal 2005, according to a Dec. 13 report from the Congressional Research Service.

Wyoming will get $27.80 per person in anti-terrorism grants this year, down significantly from $40 a person last year. In contrast, New York, a victim of repeat terrorist attacks, will receive $15.54 per person in 2005, up from $10.13 last year.

On a per capita basis, New York is the only state to receive more security dollars in fiscal 2005 than fiscal 2004, primarily because overall funding decreased from about $3 billion to about $2.4 billion, according to the report.

(reprinted, in part, from Stateline.org article by Kathleen Hunter, December 16, 2004)