Springfield leaders, casino consultants eye June 25 deadline - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Springfield leaders, casino consultants eye June 25 deadline for referendum

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Springfield's city councilors and the consultants who are guiding the city through the casino process want residents to be able to vote on a referendum on June 25.

That's the same day as the special election for U.S. Senate.

The consultants say it's an aggressive but attainable timeline.

"It's going to be very tight, there's not a lot of room for error," said Sid Froelich, casino consultant.

Froelich spoke before city councilors and casino committee members Tuesday night, confident that the city could have a community host agreement ironed out in time for the June 25 special election.

"We're shooting for that date, we think it's obtainable assuming nothing goes wrong, so it's got to hit just right," he said.

But that means having the negotiations between the casino developers and city officials posted on the city's website by April 24 to give residents the 60-day notice they're given by law to review the negotiations.

City Council President James Ferrera has his concerns.

"'I've stated specifically that the council will not ratify any agreement until after 30 days of review, minimal," he said.

The community host agreement is designed to address community concerns, but to meet the April 24 deadline, residents and city councilors must have all their suggestions into the consultants within the next couple of weeks.

Many residents at Tuesday night's meeting spoke out with ideas.

"It should be safety first, education, and then everything else can go to the general funds for the rest of the needs of the city," said resident and President of the New North Citizen's Council Jose Claudio.

Froelich says the negotiations with developers are just now starting to ramp up.

Exactly how much money they're willing to pump into the city depends largely on the tax rate.

In Massachusetts the developers face property taxes near $17 million or $18 million, which could limit the amount of money the two are willing to spend on the city.

There are certain obligations the operators must meet like job numbers, or they would face financial consequences.

Hard Rock in West Springfield and Mohegan Sun in Palmer are also vying for the sole Western Mass casino license.

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