Ossenfort discusses casino bid failure with legislators

Even though the state has eliminated Montgomery County as a potential site for a casino, County Executive Matthew Ossenfort says the application process was a good example of cooperation between municipalities.

The state Gaming Commission recently disqualified Montgomery County’s application to have a casino built in the town of Florida, saying the application was incomplete. The Clairvest Group, developers of the county’s casino proposal, submitted the application by the state-imposed June 30 deadline even though county officials had asked for a 60-day extension of the deadline and deferral of half the $50 million licensing fee.

“The county and the town [of Florida] and the city [of Amsterdam] did everything we could and worked well together,” Ossenfort said at Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s Economic Development and Planning Committee. “Moving forward, you know these are good people to work with in Montgomery County.”

District 9 Legislator Alex Kuchis was not pleased that the county was disqualified.

“I find it absolutely astonishing that the group we worked with did not produce a complete application,” he said.

District 8 Legislator Joseph M. Isabel asked where the blame should fall for the disqualification of the Florida site.

“The state made it very difficult for Montgomery County to compete.” Ossenfort said.

The justification for the request of the deadline extension and fee deferral was based on comparisons with other counties in the running for a casino. Ossenfort wrote a letter to state Gaming Commission officials in June stating that the $50 million licensing fee and the $135 million “minimum capital investment” were excessive, based on the “aggregate household income” of Montgomery, Fulton and Schoharie County residents. Four counties in the running for a casino had lower capital investment and licensing fees, he wrote.

Ossenfort said the loss of the casino, coupled with the closure of FGI in Amsterdam, makes it imperative that the county continue its efforts to attract business and industry.

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.