Mahoning Township is continuing its efforts to make sure a long- anticipated racetrack/ casino is developed on property on U.S. Route 224 here.
On Monday, Solicitor Louis Perrotta’s Dec. 29 letter to Lawrence County commissioners was made public. He states in the letter that his sources have informed him that the township and county will have to “engage in an aggressive strategy to keep the racino in our community.” He said he has been authorized to begin a letter drive to members of the state Legislature and that the township unofficially is calling the campaign “Back on Track.”
American Harness Tracks LLC, of Pittsburgh, the successful bidder in the recent bankruptcy sale of the Valley View Downs project, has agreed to negotiate to form a possible partnership to develop the racetrack with Merit Management Group of Chicago, owned by local native Joseph Canfora. This possible partnership has given many local residents hope that the project will stay here despite fears that American Harness Tracks might take it to the Johns- town area.
Perrotta also said he has learned the county commissioners have been asked to issue an opinion on allocation of any potential gaming-revenue funds. Perrotta said after the meeting that he would like to know if the county intends to make any future gaming revenue available to the township for projects. State law provides that the township and the county each would receive designated allotments based on a percentage of gaming revenues. The commissioners have not met since receipt of the letter and have not yet made a response.
Also Monday, supervisors hired Berkheimer Tax Administrators, Beaver Falls, to administer the township wage tax. The company will receive 3 percent of the gross receipts, which Supervisor Gary Pezzuolo said is nearly a 50 percent savings for the township. The company was selected by the county’s task force to replace county tax collectors due to a change made by the state Legislature. Until the changeover, which will take place in 2012, Virginia McFarland will serve as interim township tax collector and be paid $650 monthly.
Supervisors also announced they have received money from the county to replace the bridge on McBride Road. The job is being advertised for bids, which are due at 8:45 a.m. Jan. 31 at the Mahoning Township building. Bid packets are available at RAR Engineering Group, 1135 Butler Ave, New Castle, Pa., for a $25 fee. Bid opening will take place at 9 a.m., Jan. 31 at a special meeting where other business also could be conducted. Work is expected to take about two weeks. Signs will be posted before work begins.