Monday, April 13, 2009

Citizen Committee

What makes Massachusetts different than many of the states that have legalized slots and class III casinos? Are we smarter, dumber, more wizened or just too stuck in our Yankee ways to go the way of the majority of states that have legalized predatory gambling? I don't know the answer. I just know that we have citizens who are willing to think about the issue, have the skills to research the issue and separate the corporate marketing messages from data.

Tonight the Palmer Citizens Committee chaired by a pro-casino resident will report their findings to the Town Council. I have included some excerpts from the findings on fiscal impacts on education that mirror the report that I generated and was published by Spectrum Gaming, commissioned by Governor Patrick. The sub committees are comprised of a mixture of pro/anti and agnostic casino residents. The feelings of the members really do not matter however, because the bottom line is there is never adequate mitigation for slot parlors and casinos.

Contingency Plan(2.) for Palmer School System should Casino
become reality (based on 2008 costs):
1. New Elementary School with a capacity of 1,000
- Estimated construction cost: $ 40,000,000.00
2. New Middle School or High School with a capacity of 1,000
- Estimated construction cost: $ 40,000,000.00 - $100,000,000.00.
3. Each additional student entering the Palmer School System will add $10,804.00
(2007 budgetary $’s) to the annual school budget
4. Faculty competent in various foreign language(s) to teach in the E.L.L. program.
Should this program have to be expanded as much as some of the Ct. surrounding
towns to the casinos where as many as 29 foreign languages are utilized to teach(3.),
the estimated cost would be:
$ 58,000.00 (per teacher/year @ current compensation rate) for 29 additional
Teachers (1 language/teacher) would represent $ 1,682,000.00/year in additional
teacher salaries on an annual basis.
Dr. Fournier: Additional comments:
Risk of Losing Grant-in-Aid: If the casino becomes reality, it may jeopardize
Palmer’s standing in the way of grant-in-aid from the state as we will no longer be
considered needy and thus lose that funding.

Lack of State and Federal Aid for New School Construction:
Should Palmer be required to build new schools to accommodate anticipated
enrollment increases due to the casino impact, there is no current funding available
through the state like there was in the early 1990’s when Palmer built a new high
school and elementary school with 77% state funding. It is now based on a formula
of approximately 60% state funding when available. The Stimulus package that
was just passed by Congress calls for funding “repairs and improvements” to existing
structures. There is no funding budgeted for “new construction” at this time.
Mitigation Funding not anticipated from the State: If the casino becomes reality with
its associated impacts on the education system in Palmer, then Fournier doubts very
much that the state will come through with mitigation funding for our education
system.

Mohegan Sun should bare the burden: If the casino becomes reality with its
associated impacts on the education system in Palmer, then Fournier believes it is the developer who should be responsible for the mitigation funding. It should not fall back on the Town of Palmer.




Or our backs either!

1 comment:

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

Some towns do a reasoned, thoughtful analysis of costs - so that they know where the breakeven point is.

And then there's Middleboro.