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Racetrack holds up final budget

Town council deferred to next week a decision to provide funding for horse racing operations at the Fort Erie Race Track.

On the table during the budget meeting Tuesday night was a request from the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium for a $500,000 grant toward its many-multi-million budget to run thoroughbred racing in 2015.

Trying to make good on his election campaign position to end financial support of the racetrack, Mayor Wayne Redekop suggested a $200,000 loan be made instead.

. . . continued

Councillors wanted more time to digest his proposal and deferred a vote to the next council meeting this Monday. But not before there was some frank discussion.

Redekop split the difference between Don Lubberts who wanted it cut completely and the rest of council.

Councillor Kim Zanko said the grant combined with a redoubled effort on planning, working a plan and lobbying is necessary.

There would be a “real domino effect . . . if we outright pulled the plug,” she said.

Given that the Province is putting in millions, even if it is only short-term, “if the Province does and we don’t, the outcome will be significantly in the negative,” Zanko said.

All the councillors expressed their desire to unbridle the taxpayers from the racetrack at some point.

George McDermott said he supports the track but “just not sure to what extent” the Town should. “I don’t want to leave people high and dry.”

A decision on this will finalize the 2015 Town budget. Full report will be in the paper.

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  1. Bill Doyle | Mar 5, 2015 | Reply

    The Council can vote 5-1 to build the DSBN Theatre. This decision has already cost the people of Fort Erie $500,000. How much more will it cost both the taxpayers of Fort Erie and the DSBN supporters?
    The Provincial Government chose to move the slots at the racetrack to the Bingo halls (Gaming Rooms). Where does this money now go?
    The Provincial Government announced the closing of the track then at the last moment announced there would be racing. Granted the number of days were greatly reduced that most of the people at the track earned less than a half year’s income. Because the track was able to survive with the last moment announcements the Provincial Government finally agreed to fund the track so everybody knew that the track would be open.
    During the February by-election 2014, Premier Wynne announced that there would be a full racing season. What does Fort Erie get _ 37 race days. Could the Premier live on less than half a year’s salary and cover the costs of wintering horses? The Provincial Government expects the horse people to.
    The track may remain open but the |Governments’ (provincial and local) are causing the horse people to look elsewhere.
    If Fort Erie Council can vote 5-1 to build a school theatre it must support the Fort Erie Race Track.

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