Board Oks Plan To Lease City Land For Slots

April 16, 2009|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,annie.linskey@baltsun.com

Baltimore's Board of Estimates approved an agreement Wednesday to lease city-owned land near M&T Bank Stadium to the developers of a slots parlor, with revenues aimed at a reduction in the property tax rate.

"I made it very clear that we would only do this for property tax reduction and school construction," said Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who has previously opposed gambling. The city officials hope for an 8-cent reduction in the city's property tax rate of $2.27 per $100 in assessed value - more than twice as high as in adjacent Baltimore County and the highest in the state by far.

City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake supported the measure, saying that the city will "flourish" by using revenues from the facility's rent payments to build schools and cut taxes.

City Comptroller Joan Pratt, who cast the lone "no" vote, said she doubts that people will come from out of state to spend money at a Baltimore facility. She also said that the facility will bring social ills.

Paul Micucci, a principal with developer Baltimore Entertainment Group, said he expects the new complex to include live entertainment like comedy shows and music performances.

Under the agreement, the casino would provide ground rent to the city via a profit-sharing agreement on gross gambling revenues, and those funds won't begin to flow until the casino is operating, which city officials hope will be in 2011.

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