Danville, Va., City Council Approves Budget Without Tax Hikes Thanks to Caesars

Posted on: May 19, 2021, 01:36h. 

Last updated on: May 19, 2021, 03:26h.

The Danville City Council in Virginia this week unanimously approved a $280.2 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

Danville casino Caesars Virginia
The former Dan River Inc. textile site. While the property is in ruins, Caesars Entertainment’s plans to construct a $400 million casino resort on the grounds are already paying off for Danville, Va., residents, and businesses. (Image: Danville Register & Bee)

The spending plan includes two percent salary increases for qualifying city employees, a new riverfront park with water attractions for children, upgrades to the Danville Regional Airport, neighborhood blight removal, and enhancements to the city’s gateways. And it’s all being done without any tax increase on local businesses or residents. 

Danville is one of four cities in Virginia that approved of a casino to spur economic growth through a ballot referendum during last November’s election. The border town is banking on the forthcoming Caesars Entertainment project to fuel its spending initiatives. 

We don’t have any need for a tax or rate increase because the Caesars resort development has already generated a significant source of revenue for the city,” City Manager Ken Larking told the Danville Register & Bee.

Danville selected Caesars as its casino partner after the company presented the city with a $400 million development. The complex is being built on the former grounds of a textile mill in the Schoolfield neighborhood.

The resort blueprint includes a 300-room hotel, 35,000 square feet of conference space, a 2,500-seat theater, a pool, a spa, and a casino floor with 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games, a 16-table poker room, and a sportsbook.

Danville Already Benefitting

In approving its budget this week, Danville officials said Caesars has made good on its one-time upfront payment of $15 million to the city for the casino license. The casino operator additionally paid the town $5 million for the sale of the former Dan River Inc. property. 

Of that $20 million, $5 million is being set aside for a new police station on Memorial Drive. Around $4.4 million has been allocated to the Danville Industrial Development Authority for economic projects. 

Danville Public Schools is the largest single beneficiary of the council budget. The education system will receive $72.57 million. State funding accounts for $48.74 million of that number.

Danville City Council is also directing $2.4 million to George Washington High School to upgrade the facility, which involves a new running track at the school’s football stadium.

“This has to be one of the smoothest budget processes in a long time,” Councilmember Sherman Saunders said of the unanimous vote.

Casino Revenue Coming

The Danville City Council is using the upfront casino money, as well as bonds and loans secured with anticipation of the forthcoming gaming tax revenue, to move forward with the budget plan.

Caesars has projected that its Danville casino resort will generate annual taxes of $20 million for the city. Gross gaming revenue will be taxed on a graduated scale ranging from 18 to 30 percent, based on total win. The town will also see sales, food and beverage, and hotel occupancy tax increases. 

Danville’s budget additionally includes the creation of a tourism manager. The position will be tasked with promoting Danville as a destination. The person hired will receive an annual salary of roughly $80,000.