Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big decision time approaching on gambling

I can absolutely assure you the weather people are correct. We will be getting some rain in our area today. One of our Senior Fitness group wasn’t at the gym today, but the rest of us are as one in feeling this low pressure system either coming through now or soon to be here. I think the reaction of our innards is the biggest, and possibly the only real, downside of moving through this upper age level. I must quickly add, though, that waking up in the morning is worth it.

October is slipping away. Just like the speed of the week’s passing I’ve complained about often, months seem to be racing by, also. Friday night will be Halloween, and kids will be out in force as a solid demonstration that October will be ending.

We’ve now learned what we already knew. Penn National, the owner of Hollywood Slots in Bangor, is the force behind the drive to put slots at Scarborough Downs in Scarborough. It has not been a secret and Penn National’s name has been prominently mentioned in advertising from The Downs for its development project. What the official knowledge does is confirm that if the slots pass, a lot more of Mainer’s money will be heading to Las Vegas where Penn National is based.

The Scarborough project goes beyond the slots in hopes of gaining town support for the project. The Scarborough Village group promises huge development, mostly on Scarborough Downs land, and, the group says, it will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue. And, of course, create jobs. It’s the same carrot that the Oxford County pro-casino group is dangling in front of the noses of voters throughout the state attempting to get a full casino approved for Oxford.

We seen news reports recently about costs no one wants to talk about in localities in other parts of the country where casinos have been permitted. The infrastructure to support such developments can eat up most or even more of the gain. Such expenses as police and fire support, sewers, roads, and a slew of others need to be considered. In fairness, Scarborough Downs already has access from Route 1 and the Paine Road near a turnpike exit, but whether those accesses are sufficient is not known, at least to me. From the experience of others, they are not. I would think the Paine Road, especially, would need some major overhaul for traffic.

What about all those great jobs? I don’t have a link to a newspaper story I read recently, but all those great jobs in Bangor perhaps are not quite so great at all. One group of workers was making as little as $3.50/hour and depending on tips to bring the wage into minimum category. Many of the workers were averaging about 10 dollars an hour which isn’t any better than what local companies are paying right now. Sure, there were some much higher paying jobs, but isn’t that also true in any business?

There are many jobs in those pay ranges available right now for anyone who really wants a job. Doubt me? Just read the Help Wanted ads in the papers and in the windows of most businesses.

As for the local tax argument, I pointed out a couple weeks ago that in all my years, I can’t recall a single promised development that reduced my taxes. Mostly because of the infrastructure development needed, taxes seem to climb. There are some who would argue that taxes would have climbed even more without that development, but I’m not so sure of that.

So, if you haven’t yet voted on either State Referendum #2 or the Scarborough zone change referendum, be sure to learn all the facts, both sides, before you place your vote. And please, vote.


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