Ambrosino Asks to Renegotiate Casino Agreement to Shift Money to Workforce Development

Money the city is set to receive from Encore Boston Harbor could be going toward job training for Chelsea residents.

Monday night, the City Council voted 8-3 to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to renegotiate the city’s Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with Encore to set aside $100,000 of the $225,000 earmarked for roadway repairs in the agreement for workforce development.

“I still believe that workforce development is an important and unmet need in the City,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “This casino mitigation agreement provides an opportunity to set aside a modest annual amount for that purpose. The source would be a portion of the funds set aside in the existing Agreement for roadway improvements, a program which the City already adequately supports through other available revenues.”

Although the council approved Ambrosino’s renegotiation with Encore, several councillors opposed moving funds away from road improvements to workforce development.

“Why take the money from where it was intended to go and put it somewhere else?” District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda countered that there are numerous mechanisms in the budget for roadway improvements, but revenue streams for workforce development are nonexistent.

“This is a good use, in my view, of that $100,000,” he said, adding the training would benefit Chelsea residents.

But District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said the workforce development money would be used mainly for casino and other hospitality trades.

“That is something the casino should be spending money on, not us,” said Bishop. “Why should we pay to train people at the casino?”

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda cast the third vote against the measure, agreeing with Bishop that the wording of the proposal focused too heavily on training for jobs in the casino industry.

•In other business, the Council approved the Community Preservation Act Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, and approved Community Preservation Act funds for six projects, including renovating the Civil War Monument, the Marlborough Street Community Garden, Bellingham-Cary House building repairs, the Garden Cemetery project, Congregation Agudath Sholom repairs, and money for an affordable housing trust fund specialist.

•District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez also asked Ambrosino to look into the city installing removable speed bumps at Marlborough and Shawmut streets for the summer.

Lopez also asked the City Manager to provide the Council with a list of all City cars being taken home by City employees, and to provide the Council with a list of overtime hours worked by the Inspectional Services Department.

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