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Foxwoods and Milford near a deal on casino

MILFORD — A Foxwoods gambling resort in Milford would pay annual property taxes of some $18 million or more, as well as additional upfront annual payments to bulk up the local police, fire and school departments, under a draft agreement recently released by the Milford Board of Selectmen.

Though not entirely finished, the framework of a deal seems to be in place in the document of more than 120 pages.

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“I thought some of the numbers could have been higher, but for the most part, I’m satisfied,” Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis said Monday night.

Annual payments to the town from the developer would include $1.1 million for the Fire Department, $1.4 million for police, $121,000 for schools, and $200,000 for town administration, in the current draft.

The agreement would require the developers to spend at least $1 billion on the facility and related traffic improvements. It forbids construction within 600 feet of any home.

Foxwoods will also commit to applying its “best effort” to buy at least $50 million in supplies and services annually from local vendors and to create 2,500 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs at the resort, according to the draft agreement.

Milford selectmen discussed the proposal Monday evening and scheduled another meeting for next Wednesday night, when a final version may be nearer completion.

If a majority of town voters endorse the proposal at referendum, the project would advance to the next hurdle: Town Meeting.

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“This is the very first draft; we’re not done yet,” Gerald M. Moody, town counsel, said after the meeting. “Negotiations are continuing intensively on a daily basis on a significant number of issues.”

Selectmen said they expect the revenue figures to be increased, and mentioned toughening the language pertaining to water, sewer, and traffic mitigation.

“There are still a lot of moving parts,” Selectman Brian W. Murray said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.

But, he said, there is “a good possibility” the panel will finalize the agreement next week. Once the deal is done, selectmen will set a date for a townwide referendum on the proposal for early November, he said.

If a majority of town voters endorse the proposal at referendum, the project would advance to the next hurdle: Town Meeting. Milford has a representative town meeting with 240 members, said Murray. The project would need to win a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting to change local zoning to permit a gambling business.

The state Gaming Commission has set a Dec. 31 deadline for completed applications.

Foxwoods is competing for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license with Suffolk Downs, in East Boston and Revere, and Wynn Resorts, which has proposed a casino in Everett.

Colorado developer David Nunes has been working to build support for the Milford project for five years, even before Massachusetts legalized casino gambling in 2011.

Foxwoods, the Connecticut casino giant, joined the Milford venture in February.

Wynn has already signed a deal with Everett and won a referendum vote.

Suffolk Downs, which has pitched a casino resort in partnership with Caesars Entertainment, is still negotiating a host agreement with the city of Boston. The thoroughbred horse racing track has already completed negotiations on a separate deal with Revere. The details of that agreement have been kept confidential and will be released when the track completes its pact with Boston.

Of the 11 original applicants for three available state casino licenses, Foxwoods, Suffolk Downs, and Mohegan Sun have yet to complete host community agreements.

The Mohegan Sun deal with Palmer in Western Massachusetts is expected to be done later this week.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@
globe.com
. Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@
globe.com
. Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.
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