During these difficult fiscal times, any additional revenue for a municipality is certainly welcome and should be greeted with open arms. This scenario certainly seems to be the case for Everett taxpayers with the recently-announced host agreement with Wynn Development.
To put it simply, Everett seems to have hit the jackpot, and Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his staff should be congratulated for their hard work in obtaining this agreement.
There is something for everyone. First, there is a lump payment of $30M upfront while the hotel/casino is being constructed. This money is earmarked for infrastructure improvements that would include both new police and fire stations.
The annual budget to run the City of Everett today is about $140M. This one development, when completed, is expected to pay $20M annually or about 15% of today’s entire budget. This would translate into good news for Everett’s residential taxpayers and especially commercial ratepayers, who have long complained of the high burden of their tax bills.
There is a $5M payment per year earmarked for extra police and fire department operations and another annual payment of $250,00 to fund community initiatives. There also will be $50,000 annually set aside to purchase vouchers and gift certificates from local businesses.
In addition, the room and meal tax income could realize as much as an additional $2.5M per year for the city coffers. There is a further agreement for the developer to fund traffic improvements for Route 16 and Route 99.
For those seeking employment, there is a provision that Everett residents would be given a priority on jobs at the development.
Lastly, a brownfield that has limited use in its present condition would be cleaned up and access to the waterfront would be enhanced for Everett residents.
We fully realize that looking at an agreement involving a gambling enterprise cannot be judged purely from the perspective of adding up the dollars and cents. There are the larger issues about gambling addiction and the type of clientele that this type of development would attract.
We know that there will be much more debate about this project by both proponents and opponents and we look forward to that discussion.
But as the special election in Everett approaches, we urge residents to start thinking about this development in terms of the immense benefits that it will bring to our city.