By Kalea hall
and David skolnick
The Austintown Township trustees have received another option for providing water services to the racino from the city of Niles.
On Friday morning, trustee Jim Davis said he received a proposal from the Niles Service Director Neil Buccino for the city to make Penn National its water customer with “no strings attached.”
“I am assuming by that they don’t want a joint economic development district, they don’t want to add any surcharges or any taxes to the water,” Davis said. “They just want to provide water to the racino and have Penn National as a customer, like any other business.”
All three of the trustees have said they are against the JEDD that the city of Youngstown proposed to them, which they feel would deter future business from coming to the area and would also cause higher taxes on Penn National and its employees. A JEDD would enable Penn National to use infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. The city would be able to tax the company for the use of those services.
Mayor of Youngstown Charles Sammarone said the JEDD would bring in money to both communities. Austintown Township Trustee Lisa Oles and Davis told The Vindicator last week Youngstown officials said the JEDD could bring in $2 million to the community.
Sammarone said if Penn National can get a better deal from Niles on water, the company should do so.
But Sammarone said he doubts the company can get a better deal from Niles, which would have to build water lines to the racino. Also, he doesn’t know about Penn National’s sewer lines.
“I never said we weren’t going to give them water,” Sammarone said. “We have a population loss and we need ways to generate tax money. If [Penn National] doesn’t want to do this, that’s fine.”
Youngstown wants to work out an economic development deal with Penn National that would provide the racino not only with water and sewer services, but also financial incentives, he said.
“They won’t get a better economic deal than what we offer,” Sammarone said. “I don’t blame any business for getting a better deal, but I don’t think they’ll do better than the incentives we offer.”
The proposal given by Niles would require the city to run waterlines to Austintown, which could cost up to $1.6 million, Davis said.
Davis contacted Penn National to tell them about the proposal, which the company thought was outstanding, but they are exploring all options.
“Ultimately the decision has to be made between Penn National and the city of Niles,” Davis said.
Davis said all of the trustees were ecstatic to hear the news about the new proposal and they plan to meet with the city of Niles administrators in the near future.
“This is outstanding news that we have this type of effort being made between two neighboring communities,” Davis said.
Niles administrators could not be reached to comment late Friday.