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SOUTH PARIS – The former mayor of Ledyard, Connecticut, home to the Foxwoods casino, today told the Oxford County commissioners to be prepared for higher costs and more crime if voters approve a gambling casino for Oxford.
Susan Mendenhall, who served eight years on the Ledyard Town Council and just completed a four-year term as mayor, told the commissioners that the casino has placed numerous costly burdens on the town without little economic development spinoffs.
“The biggest impact that we faced was on our emergency services people,” she said. “Prior to 1996, responses averaged 500 a year. Now, responses are almost double, and remember, the town population has remained relatively flat. Our town dispatch center had three full time dispatchers. Now we have six full timers and 10 part timers. Call volume has risen from 3,000 calls a year to over 50,000 last year for routine and emergency calls.
“Another issue that has put additional burden on our police department is the rather unpleasant reality that crime follows the money. Although some of these crimes are a sign of the times, we have had a rise in gun and drug related issues, and assorted issues that track the money.”
Mendenhall also dispelled the myth that towns surrounding a casino will see new businesses or economic growth. She said Ledyard has seen little change in the 15 years of hosting a casino.
“Will you see economic development spin-off – we have seen little,” she said. “The reality is that the casino resort becomes a destination – incorporating all that patrons need – hotels, bars, restaurants, gaming and entertainment.”
Mendenhall appeared as a volunteer without payment to warn the Oxford County Commissioners that they should look very carefully at the costs connected to a casino, costs that ultimately end up being paid by the taxpayers.
“Over the years, our local towns have absorbed into our yearly budgets the…associated costs [from the casino],” she said. “However it has been painful on the local taxpayer. Don’t let that happen here.”
Mendenhall appeared at the meeting with Dennis Bailey, executive director of CasinosNO! who gave the commissioners a 20-page report detailing the experiences of other communities in the US who are hosts to gambling casinos.
“Voters shouldn’t listen to me or the proponents of this casino,” Bailey said. “All they need to do is examine the communities that have casinos and find out what their experience has been. At best it’s mixed. At worst, casinos are a disaster providing no economic benefit to area communities and costing taxpayers money.”
Contact: Dennis Bailey, 207-749-4963