OLG approves top-up payments to communities through 2012

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley deserves to take a bow.

When OLG Casinos and Slots told some 23 municipalities throughout the province that accounting changes would result in a significant loss in revenue to the host communities, Bradley wasn't about to bow to what he believed was a unilateral (and unnecessary) abrogation of the original terms of an agreement the provincial gaming corporation had made.

Effective April 1, 2011, the OLG, mandated to adopt a different accounting methodology, had said the new way of doing business would affect calculations for how much each municipality was rebated from revenue earned.

Bradley and the group hollered "unfair" and proceeded to meet with gaming officials between the time the word came out and last fall.

On February 6, the OLG's board of directors approved a deal brokered between the group of municipalities, spearheaded by Bradley, that continues top-up payments through 2012, an adjustment that would have ended at the end of 2011.

Bradley is "very pleased" with the outcome. 

"The decision continues the present arrangement with OLG of the rebate on the accounting changes," he said. Bradley said the group will meet with the OLG later in the year to discuss the long term."

Bradley said the positive outcome is something of a breakthrough in the relationship the OLG has had with host municipalities.

"There had been little dialogue over the last 12 years between OLG because there were no major issues. Both parties realize that we had taken the relationship for granted and in the future will be more engaged."

Bradley said annual meetings of the host communities are now planned.

But he said municipalities also need to step forward in good faith. "Host communities need to give more credit to OLG for what the five per cent does for our communities and the employment created by OLG."

In the meantime, host communities will keep an estimated $2.5 million more in 2012 than they would have without the intervention of Bradley and the group he helped organize.

That's approximately $50,000 each to both Sarnia and Point Edward.

Kudos all around.

J.D. Booth

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