Revere City Councillors gave a unanimous vote of confidence to the new host community agreement (HCA) with Mohegan Sun on Friday morning and set a new referendum vote for Feb. 25.
â€œWe are absolutely thrilled with this agreement,â€ said City Council President Ira Novoselsky. â€œEven some of the councillors who were hesitant or critical on the first agreement had nothing but good things to say. Itâ€™s overwhelming. Itâ€™s hard to fathom the amount of money Revere is going to get out of this to beef up public safety â€“ police, fire and DPW. Thereâ€™s even funding for the School Department.â€
Councillor Brian Arrigo, who had some marked criticism of the previous agreement inked earlier this year, said any hesitation he once had is now gone.
â€œThatâ€™s just an awful lot of money coming to us,â€ he said.
The Council vote came in at 10-0, with Councillor Jessica Giannino not able to attend the meeting â€“ which was called suddenly on Dec. 24.
The new agreement follows an agreement that was made between Suffolk Downs and Caesars Entertainment last September â€“ an agreement that was part of a previous project shared with East Boston. Now, after East Boston voted that project down on Nov. 5, the casino proposal has moved to the Revere side and is proceeding through the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) process.
MGC members approved a plan this month to allow Mohegan Sun to become the applicant for the Revere-only casino, giving them a waiver on having the referendum vote by the Dec. 31 deadline. All other materials in the Dec. 31 application deadline must be turned in though.
That second vote will come on Feb. 25, as agreed upon by councillors Friday.
Mayor Dan Rizzo said he is excited about the new agreement and expects the vote to be overwhelmingly positive.
â€œI thought the first agreement we had was a game changer for Revere,â€ said Mayor Dan Rizzo. â€œWe were looking at the potential of $15 million and thereâ€™s a lot you can do with that kind of money. Now, weâ€™re looking at $40 million and thatâ€™s something that, to me, will stabilize our finances for decades to comeâ€¦Iâ€™m confident the vote will come out larger and stronger than it did on Nov. 5.â€
Rizzo said he would target any potential casino payments to the Cityâ€™s Stabilization Fund and to capital improvements.
â€œThe one thing that Iâ€™ve always believed in is we donâ€™t want to have reliance on revenues that go to our operating budget,â€ he said. â€œThe money for capital improvements and the Rainy Day Fund, those things come first. I want to be able to confidently say now we can stabilize taxes and water and sewer rates. The water meter project weâ€™re working on. We could add that to our bonded debt so it doesnâ€™t have to go on the backs of Water and Sewer ratepayers. Those are the kinds of things that help people.
â€œThis development and any offshoots from this development should have an impact on each and every resident in the City in a positive way,â€ he continued.
He also trumpeted the potential $1 million annual grant to the Revere Public Schools from casino windfalls. He said that grant will be added over and above what the City is required to give as part of the annual operating budget. However, Rizzo said that likely wonâ€™t be the only money shared with the schools.
â€œThat will be a minimum,â€ he said. â€œIf there are other needs the School Department has, such as after-school programs, the new Community School or additional sports programs, we will be able to help with those things too. â€œ
In all, Rizzo said he was happy to have a second crack at another HCA.
â€œI am grateful to have a second chance,â€ he said. â€œOn Nov. 5, Revere voters came out and overwhelmingly voted in favor of a casino. We believe the existing HCA allowed for proceeding with this project in Revere. The Gaming Commission agreed with that, but felt more comfortable in calling for a new vote and a new HCA. If that was the only way to go forward, obviously weâ€™re going to adhere to their wishes.â€
The full text of the new HCA and an executive summary can be found on page 3 or on the Revere Journalâ€™s website (www.reverejournal.com) under the â€˜Hard Copyâ€™ feature.