What to Do with City’s Share of Casino Haul?: DeMaria, Van Campen Share Their Ideas on Potential Casino Revenue

September 25, 2013
By
Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr.

Alderman Robert Van Campen

Alderman Robert Van Campen

With six weeks to go before Everett voters head to the polls to choose a mayor and elect a new city government, The Everett Independent has engaged the two candidates for Mayor – Incumbent Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Alderman Robert Van Campen – with a series of questions about their ideas for leading the city over the next four years. Think of this as a weekly mini-debate unfolding right in the pages of our newspaper.

The question for this week is probably one of the most obvious questions we could ask, but one that needs to be asked, given the potential for a casino development in the city of Everett.

Following the question are the written answers provided to us by the candidates. The Independent has made no material changes to the content of these answers and we have asked the candidates to keep their answers between 250-300 words. They are the answers that the candidates and their campaign committees have provided to us. We hope this brief series of questions over the next few weeks helps you make your decision, if you have not already done so.

Q. If the Wynn Resorts proposal to establish a resort casino on Everett’s waterfront is successful, how will you recommend appropriating and spending the money that is provided to Everett in the Host Agreement with Wynn?

Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr.  Response

When negotiating our successful host agreement, I had several key priorities in mind – among them to have a stable, predictable amount of revenue coming to the City that would increase over time and to have the flexibility to spend that money to address the City’s needs in the future. I am proud to say that I was able to achieve both of those goals.

Should Wynn Everett be awarded the gaming license, the City would receive an immediate payment of five million dollars – a down payment of the $30 million coming to the City before Wynn Everett even opens its doors. As a one-time source of revenue, I would seek to have that 30 million spent on needed capital improvement projects in our city like Seven Acre Park, other park improvements, and other infrastructure and services improvements. These are investments in our community that will provide value to Everett for generations.

As for the annual payments to the City, they will be used on what is needed at the time – tax relief, debt payments, bonding, and capital improvements. Because I had the foresight to negotiate large, stable payments from Wynn, which is money that can be bonded off of – meaning that it can be used to build new schools, new streets and to improve our aging infrastructure. Our agreement, unlike others in the state, allows for the money to be spent as we see fit, not as dictated during negotiations. This will work hand-in-hand with our excellent financial footing to add value to our community, lower our tax burden and continue to move Everett forward.

Alderman Robert Van Campen Response

The prospect of Wynn/Everett receiving a gaming license represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for the City of Everett.  This development allows us to tackle a number of critical issues facing our community that the current Mayor has failed to address.  Although I would work with the City Council to develop a spending plan that meets our priorities, the following are my recommendations for the most responsible use of this new revenue.

Our city is facing three critical challenges – public safety, taxes, and education.  The City of Everett would receive $20,000,000 in the form of an annual PILOT payment and $5,000,000 in the form of an annual impact fee (both with 2.5% escalators).  I would recommend appropriating these monies as follows:  (1) investing to ensure a police force that is equipped to combat our growing gang and drug problems, and a fire department that can meet the needs of an overcrowding problem that threatens to destroy the fabric of our neighborhoods; (2) using a large portion of the PILOT payment to reduce our tax rates in order to provide needed relief to our taxpayers, and spur real economic development in our city; and (3) directing a substantial portion of these monies to make a proud school system an urban model for excellence and success.  If this opportunity is to truly transform our community, we should invest more in our children, our classroom teachers, and our educational facilities.

Additionally, the one-time payments totaling $30,000,000 should be directed to providing our children and residents with world-class parks and playgrounds, and our young learners with all of the facilities, tools and technology they need to succeed.  In addition, I would ask the City Council to appropriate monies to construct police and fire sub-stations on Lower Broadway as the traffic impacts from Wynn/Everett could hinder response times for our residents in South Everett.