Scarborough Council Chairman: ‘deliberative approach’ to Downs development being taken

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Dear Scarborough residents,

As the Scarborough Downs issues continue to be analyzed by the Town Council I would like to keep Scarborough residents up-to-date on events. Let me say at the outset that a tax-sharing agreement with Scarborough Downs is of enormous significance to the community. While we have been steadily working on this issue since our first workshop in February, I expect that we have no intention to alter the deliberative approach we are taking. That process, including further community education and input, will continue as long as necessary. For those residents that wish to learn more about these matters, we have created a webpage on the Town’s website (www.scarboroughmaine.org), for easy access. On Wednesday, Sept. 5, the Town Council held a lengthy executive session with the Town Manager, Scarborough Economic Development Director Karen Martin, and town attorney. While much of the executive session is confidential, involving legal advice and bargaining strategy, there is information that I can provide everyone. We had before us a recital of bargaining principles that reflect the consensus of the Town Council from the prior executive session. No vote was taken, but by councilors voicing opinions, the town manager was able to identify principles that would guide our further evaluation of our options. This document is not deemed to be confidential and is now posted on the town’s website. We also had before us a series of income and expense analyses projecting the long-term financial performance of different development scenarios predicated on either making an agreement with Scarborough Downs or no agreement being reached. These analyses were prepared by Karen Martin, the town’s economic development expert, who has considerable experience in development-modeling and financial projections. It took her the better part of July and August to prepare and proof them. They are complex and involve both projecting patterns of development of Scarborough Downs, the income derived from increased taxes and the costs resulting from increased services. We are in the process of having an independent consultant with expertise in marketing projections evaluate these pro formas to assess their reliability. That work will be completed in the coming weeks and will be promptly reported out to the Town Council. Based upon the preliminary profit projections that have been done, the consensus within the Town Council is that further analysis and validation is worth pursuing. The Town Manager also reviewed with the Town Council a framework for a proposal to be made to Scarborough Downs. It was recognized by the Town Council that further work on the specific details of the proposal was necessary, but it was acknowledged that the framework was true to the bargaining principles. Throughout this process, the Town Council also acknowledged that a Tax Incentive Financing District may be appropriate for the Scarborough Downs property, as well as the area around Oak Hill, regardless of whether a tax agreement is reached with The Downs. It is expected that the Town Council will soon conduct further public workshops to advance the discussion around that topic and also deliberate further in executive session concerning a specific tax agreement proposal. There is no certainty that an agreement can be successfully negotiated, but in no case will it be finalized without a full explanation of its effect being given to the community. The potential opportunity is tremendous and we owe it to ourselves to make certain that we have properly explored all options for partnership. The Town Council certainly appreciates that residents are anxious to learn the particular details of a tax arrangement. However, we believe it is important that proper due diligence is first done to ensure the integrity of the analysis and the appropriateness of the proposal. This will allow for meaningful input from residents. I want to especially thank the community for its patience and trust.

Bill Donovan

Chairman, Scarborough Town Council

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