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Community News: Southeast

SOUTH GATE : Council May Create Bingo Commission

June 18, 1995|ENRIQUE LAVIN

The City Council is one step closer to forming a commission that would regulate bingo playing in the city and give council members a $100-a-month pay increase for sitting on its board.

After heatedly discussing whether they should get the pay raise, the City Council on Tuesday voted 4-0, with Councilman Henry C. Gonzalez abstaining, to introduce an ordinance that would create the bingo commission.

Meetings would be held twice a month, and each council member would receive $50 per meeting.

Money for the salary increase would come from either the city's Redevelopment Agency or the general fund, which would be paid back from bingo revenues.

When it was time to vote, no council member supported Gonzalez's call for compensation only after bingo revenues are generated. None followed his lead when he said he would not collect the stipend if the commission receives final approval June 27 as expected.

"Bingo is a good thing for our community," Mayor Albert Robles said Wednesday. "I do not have to tax my constituents and it will loosen up some of those general fund dollars that we need."

A proposal to form a commission--originally proposed in an emergency ordinance last month as a "gaming" commission--was drafted to pave the way for the opening of a high-stakes bingo parlor by the end of the year that would generate about $35 million a year in gross revenues.

The city expects to receive about 50% of the parlor's net revenues, with most of that money going to charities and to help pay for programs at South Gate Park.

The debate over whether council members should give themselves a stipend for operating as a regulatory board started at the May 16 council meeting when Gonzalez voted against the ordinance.

Calling the board a "gaming" commission rather than a "bingo" commission would open the door for gambling, which residents overwhelmingly voted down in 1991, Gonzalez said.

"The purpose of bringing bingo to the city is to give [money] to nonprofit [groups] and here we are getting [$1,200] a year for it," he said.

Since Robles was absent on a business trip for the May 16 meeting and the urgency ordinance requires a four-fifths majority to pass, the measure failed.

In that early draft of the ordinance, council members were to be paid $150 per meeting instead of the $100 in the version that was approved Tuesday.

Acting as the Redevelopment Agency, the council has been negotiating with the Oldtimers Foundation and the Southern California Regional Resource Foundation to operate a nightly bingo parlor.

Winners would receive up to $250 per game, the highest amount allowed by the state.

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