Localities being asked to support change

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nottoway County officials are asking their Lunenburg counterparts to support a proposal to have a portion of lottery sales returned to the general fund of the localities where the sales originated.

The proposal calls for an allocation of 5 percent of total lottery sales to be returned.

The petition, adressed to Sen. Frank Ruff and Del. Tommy Wright Jr., is signed by the mayors of the towns of Crewe, Burkeville and Blackstone and the chairman of the Nottoway County Board of Supervisors.

“It is envisioned the allocation will be culled from total sales and subtracted from the portion of the lottery pool designated as the ‘prize pool’ (approximately 60.6 percent of sales). In this way, the public school funding allocation (approximately 29 percent of sales) is untouched,” the petition stated. “No monies are diverted from public education by our formula.”

Crewe Mayor Greg Eanes said earlier this month he emailed the petition to the mayors of Kenbridge and Victoria and the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors “to try to get them to support the effort.”

“The revenue infusion a ‘Lottery for Localities’ can provide to local governments will have a positive impact for cash-strapped rural counties facing an ever shrinking business and community tax base while demands for public services rise,” officials said in the letter. “We feel this is a discussion that needs to be initiated across the commonwealth with governments and state officials.”

Officials said supporters are open to a constructive dialogue and suggestions on “how to make this concept a reality.”

They noted this endeavor should be seen as a bipartisan effort to benefit taxpayers and local governments regardless of size and population.

By returning the funds based on sales and not per capita “we in the locality only see a percentage of what we generated in our localities,” the letter signers said.

Supporters note legislation passed in the 2017 session will take effect July 1 of that year.

Del. James Edmunds said he supports the effort.

“It’s going to help every county in rural Virginia, including Prince Edward,” he said.

The Virginia Lottery delivered more than a half billion dollars to Virginia’s K-12 public schools in a single fiscal year, lottery said in an August 2015 release. Lottery officials announced profits for the 2015 fiscal year totaled nearly $534 million.

Players raked in a record $1.1 billion in prizes during the year, and retailers selling Virginia lottery tickets earned a record nearly $104 million in commissions, according to the release.

Lottery profits make up approximately 8 percent of Virginia’s K-12 education budget.