Cape casino issue will be on the ballot, not without cost

By Zakk Gammon - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It's been a long time coming, but it is official: the issue of a casino coming to Cape Girardeau will be on the November ballot. Doug Austin says the Quality of Life group has done its job.

"Right now I've just got a great feeling of pride in Cape Girardeau and our council and Cape Girardeau citizens," Austin said.

The petition to get the issue on the ballot required 2,365 signatures. The group exceeded that amount with 2,727. At Monday's night's city council meeting, Austin said that's proof the Democratic process pays off.

"That's motherhood, the flag and apple pie," he said. "You just don't get more American than (voting) and I'm just ecstatic."

The task, however, isn't finished for city council members. In fact, they're just getting started. The process of getting the question on the ballot takes a few weeks to complete.

"Tonight was the first reading," said Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer. "Then, the next meeting and then after that is a ten-day waiting period before it becomes law, and then we're set for the November election."

The forced vote doesn't home without a cost, though. Some council members questioned how to come up with the money to pay for the added item. The price tag is $18,000. Austin admits he's shocked at the number.

"To me, we're adding one line to the November ballot. That must be an expensive line," said Austin.

Meyer says the cost in not in the city's budget, so officials will have to find a way to pay for it.

"We'll have to look at our current projections of where we are as far as revenue and maybe we can cut some areas to save," the city manager said. "We'll balance it out."

Austin says the Quality of Life group is now disbanded. However, it likely won't be the last people will see of him. So far, Austin has been tight-lipped, so to speak, about his position on a casino in Cape Girardeau. He says at the next city council meeting, he'll come before the board and make his opinion known with a new committee in place to start his campaign.

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