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May 11, 2013

Salem officials unhappy with proposed casino revenue cut

Host town revenue would drop from 3 percent to 1 percent


Salem selectmen said they weren’t happy to hear the town might only receive 1 percent.

“If they’re asking for 10,000 to 12,000 people to come here every day, there has to be something for the host community,” Selectman Stephen Campbell said. “Fair is fair.”

Campbell is a member of the town’s Casino Advisory Committee, which met Tuesday to consider how the town should spend the revenue should a casino become reality. He said some of the money should be used to lower Salem property taxes.

“Salem will have all the inconvenience,” he said. “I find it objectionable.”

Selectman Patrick Hargreave agreed.

“It sounds to me the state is getting greedy,” Hargreaves said. “I don’t think it is fair.”

When 81 percent of voters in March supported a casino in a nonbinding referendum, Hargreaves said, it was partly because Salem would receive 3 percent of the proceeds, roughly $13.5 million a year.

Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, a co-sponsor of SB 152, isn’t happy with the proposed cut, but said it’s still early in the legislative process to become too concerned.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed in that,” he said. “There is a process, but it’s early.”

Morse said Salem deserves to be compensated fairly if it’s the host community. The full House is expected to vote on the bill in late May.

“We will continue to fight for that,” he said.

Salem Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride Jr. said he, too, was disappointed to hear about the proposed cut, but it was too early to become concerned.

“I would rather see the 3 percent, but it’s definitely the first volley over the net,” he said.

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