It is the hope of the Taunton school district that it receives its share and more than what the city bargained for on its behalf of the anticipated casino revenue from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s proposed $500 million Project First Light Resort & Casino.
From the casino revenue the city receives, the school district will receive a one-time payment of $300,000 as laid out in the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the tribe and the city. As written in the IGA and according to revenue forecasts, the city may receive as much as $8 million annually from the casino. However, the portion received by the school district should not only be higher but rather than the one-time payment bargained for should be an annual payment. That’s what Superintendent Julie Hackett said the day after the groundbreaking ceremony that took place on April 5 in East Taunton.
In a landmark decision, in September 2015, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved the transfer of approximately 151 acres of land in Taunton and 170 acres in Mashpee for the tribe. The historic decision effectively gave the tribe the green light on its First Light Resort and Casino in East Taunton.
At the April 6 meeting of the School Committee, board member Carol Doherty asked if it was possible to revisit the IGA in order to reconsider the portion of revenue the schools are set to receive. Superintendent Hackett said, “The short answer is yes,” according to Wicked Local. Hackett said she’d love for the schools to receive $900,000, but that even if the amount stays the same, “at the very least, that should happen every year.”
Neither Doherty’s or the superintendent’s request was responded to by Mayor Thomas C. Hoye Jr. He did, however, remain positive about the future of the city with the casino construction now underway. Hoye said to date he hasn’t seen a study that shows a sizeable influx of students relocating to the Taunton school district as a result of the casino being built there; it’s not expected. Instead, he said, it’s more likely that workers already live in southeastern Massachusetts. At a School Committee meeting the day after the groundbreaking ceremony, Hackett told school board members that overall the event was a positive one and positive for the financial outlook of the city.
While competing casinos, Wynn Boston Harbour Resort and MGM Springfield have been forced, due to a number of issues, to delay their launch dates until sometime in 2018, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe seems to be on schedule with the first phase of its project opening before the first half of 2017.