A state economic development bill that once promised Haverhill $8 million for its downtown, a new Methuen Youth and Community Center and other regional perks is moving back to the table now that officials have determined $2.94 billion in surpluses must be returned to taxpayers.
The economic development bill was shelved this summer when Gov. Charlie Baker highlighted an obscure 1986 law that mandates tax refunds when the state takes in too much money. Sen Diana DiZoglio took to the podium Thursday to explain how the bill got mired in the debate over refunds
“The issues that were raised resulted in the economic relief package, that many of us had worked on for months, actually being punted and held off and that economic relief package was unable to be passed during that timeframe,” she said.
Back in July, the House agreed to include amendments, proposed by Rep. Andy X. Vargas, to provide $8 million to cover public costs surrounding Lupoli Companies’ downtown redevelopment project and $400,000 for Haverhill’s Dutton Airport Redevelopment. Similarly, on the Senate side, DiZoglio was successful in adding $5 million for the Methuen youth center and downtown projects in Methuen and North Andover as well as other regional projects.
DiZoglio told her colleagues local officials are counting on the bill. “We’ve been contacted by our mayors. We’ve been contacted by our town managers, city councilors and advocates in our communities who really need us to get back to work and pass this economic development bill and economic relief bill.”
House- and Senate-approved versions of the bill, both of which sought to combine American Rescue Plan Act funds, surplus tax revenues and bond authorizations to make a slew of investments, remain bottled up in a six-member conference committee tasked with producing a final accord.
State House News Service contributed to this report.