CHEROKEE COUNTY, KS.--- As this year wraps up, Cherokee County leaders find themselves in good financial standing. They reported an excess of funds that stem from a settlement with Penn National Gaming, which the county was rewarded $6.75 million.
"The county's portion of that, we used to pay off the debt. All the debt that we had except for the jail. We used some of it to offset the mill levy. We were able to lower the mill levy by 5 mils for 2014," said Richard Hilderbrand, Cherokee County Commissioner.
After legal fees, the county received approximately $4 million of that money. Commissioners say they have saved about $3 million from the settlement, which leaves $1 million. That $1 million has been spent to pay debts related to an elevator, tractors, storm sirens and road graders.
"Then we set up a fund, an equipment fund. So, instead of having to go in debt in the future to buy equipment and putting the county in a debt situation, that burden won't be on them," said
The litigation between the county and Penn National Gaming had been going on for the past 5 years. Now, county leaders say they can move forward and continue progressing.
"I think that we're going into 2014 in really good shape. As long as we continue to be good stewards of the money, then we should be in good shape in 2014 and 2015," said
Today, the commissioners passed a resolution which will allow the rest of that money to be placed into an equipment reserve fund and a general fund for use next year. That means Cherokee County will be entering into the year 2014 almost debt-free. What this means for you at home? Property taxes should be slightly lower next year.
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