BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — More funding is going to area schools and governments after FireKeepers Casino Hotel announced a record contribution to the state of Michigan and local communities.
That contribution of $21.8 million comes directly from the casino’s electronic game revenue and accounts for only a small percentage of hundreds of millions of dollars it brought in last year.
Dollars spent playing those slots equates to a jackpot for schools.
“This money helps us not have to make cuts in programs because it’s non-dedicated money,” Joe Huepenbecker, the superintendent of Athens Area Schools, explained.
His district gets roughly $90,000 each year as part of the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Local Revenue Sharing Board.
“We use that money … to help do extra things around here. Obviously, schools have faced a lot of budget cuts in Michigan,” he said.
It’s money to buy more laptops for lessons or to continue vital college prep programs.
The funding also helps students already getting a college education.
“It supplements our revenues and it allows our trustees to keep our tuition rates among the lowest in the state,” said Rick Scott, Kellogg Community College’s chief financial officer.
Scott said Kellogg Community College receives roughly $300,000 each year, which helps to balance out a deficit during declining enrollment.
Emmett Township — where the casino is located — gets nearly $400,000 each year. Two thirds of that goes two public safety improvements. Another portion goes toward capital improvements.
“One of our main focuses is the Wattle Park area, as well as Harper Creek area out by Harper Village. And then one of the things this year we’re focusing on is restructuring some of our sewer line there,” Township Supervisor Tim Hill said.
Many local governments and school districts won’t know exactly how much of the $21.8 million contribution they will get until the spring or summer.