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Danville City Council members unanimously support proposed state casino legislation

Legislation would allow Danville residents to vote if they want a casino or not

DANVILLE, Va. – When the gavel came down to signal the end of Thursday night's Danville City Council meeting, council members had unanimously voted to support a bill in the General Assembly that would allow residents in Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth to vote whether or not they're willing to allow a casino in their respective cities.

After the meeting, a resident confronted councilman Sherman Saunders and the two nearly got into a shouting match.

"You will not make me believe anything differently than I already do," Saunders said, visibly agitated. "No, I'm just trying to make this point clear. You will not make me feel anything differently than I already feel, OK, or what I believe. It's as simple as that. That's the end of conversation. End of conversation."

Prior to Thursday night's vote, each council member spoke, explaining their reasoning for supporting the proposed state legislation.

Mayor Alonzo Jones also noted that tax revenue from a casino could help cover the $126 million he says the school district needs for school upgrades.

Without the casino revenue, taxes would have to go up.

"City manager, how much, if we were to accept what the school board has presented to us, what would be the tax base for our community?" Jones asked.

"You'd have to increase taxes 31.4 cents," Danville City Manager Ken Larking responded. "(That) would put us above the average for cities in Virginia."

If the proposed state legislation passes, Danville residents will get to vote in November if they want a casino or not.