Taunton City Council Delays Casino Vote03:14

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The Taunton City Council delayed its vote on a $500 million resort-style casino proposal for the town Thursday night, deciding it needed more time for review.

Last week, the city's mayor approved an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, on a proposal which includes a casino, hotels, high-end retail shops and a water park.

Supporters of the Taunton casino proposal hold signs outside the city council meeting, Thursday, May 24. (Monica Brady-Myerov/WBUR)
Supporters of the Taunton casino proposal hold signs outside the city council meeting, Thursday, May 24. (Monica Brady-Myerov/WBUR)

The city's outside gaming consultant, Cid Froelich, an attorney from Chicago, helped the city negotiate the deal.

"I think this is an extraordinarily good deal," Froelich said.

At the meeting, Froelich highlighted that the casino will bring in over $8 million a year for the city. In addition, he said the tribe made many concessions, including agreeing to pay about $300,000 a year in real estate taxes, even though the land will be put into a trust.

Council members had questions for the consultant about road improvements, bonds and emergency personnel. Council member Sherry Costa-Hanlon said that, in the end, all the questions can’t be answered now because the proposal is a work in progress.

"Once it's done we have to be vigilant about enforcing it," Costa-Hanlon said. "There's a general perception that once it's signed it's done. This is a framework for the city and the tribe to continue to work together, a general framework."

The tribe is working with a Malaysian casino developer. The IGA says the casino will bring 850 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs to the area. This appealed to resident Rick Cross.

"This IGA is going to provide money and revenue we desperately need, and jobs the city can depend on," Cross said.

Most of the public addressing the council were against the casino proposal, including Brian Parker.

"I view this is a Trojan horse and probably the biggest Trojan horse Taunton has ever seen," Parker said. "You have this ornate thing, you invite it in the door, it opens, and you find out you’ve made mistake."

One concern raised by resident Donna Faulkner is that the casino will be built about 300 feet from an elementary school.

"I’m fairly certain that if the situation were different, that the city would not choose to erect an elementary school at a resort location," Faulkner said.

The city council will vote on whether to move the proposal forward next week. If it is passed, residents will be asked to vote on the proposal on June 9.

This program aired on May 25, 2012.