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State to Decide on Marlborough Economic Development Fund

January 4, 2011 – The city’s proposed economic development fund is now in the state Legislature’s hands. The City Council last night approved a home rule petition designed to create a special revenue fund for business and economic development. The petition moves to the Legislature, which ultimately decides its fate.

In the first part of the process in November, the council approved raising the city’s local option hotel tax from 4 to 6 percent with the plan to steer the estimated $450,000 in annual revenue to economic development.

Council President Arthur Vigeant proposed the idea to increase the hotel tax with the ultimate goal of stabilizing the residential tax rate by earmarking the additional money for economic development and bringing new growth to the city.

“We have to do something for economic development,” Councilor Joseph Delano said. “We need to do something for the longterm benefit of our residents.”

Councilor Paul Ferro strongly objected to the idea, as he has at past meetings. Ferro voiced concern that the measure does not clearly define economic development and as a result, the council could direct the funding to a variety of areas, such as the paving of a street near the industrial park.

“This is the most useless piece of legislation I have ever seen” while on the council, Ferro said. “It has no net effect.”

The state Department of Revenue has reviewed the petition and said it appears acceptable, City Solicitor Donald Rider said in a Dec. 30 letter to the council.

Vigeant said he has heard a range of times for when the measure may be voted on – from a few weeks to the end of 2011.

The third and final step for the City Council is approving transfers, requested by the mayor, out of the special fund. Excess revenue not transferred out of the special fund would accumulate there.

Officials have said possible uses for the fund include new staff and a master plan spearheaded by the Marlborough Economic Development Corp.

The tax started Jan. 1. Marlborough should collect its first check – possibly about $80,000 – around the end of March for the quarter that runs through February. The money would go into the city’s general fund until the special fund is established.

The City Council also unanimously re-elected Vigeant its president.

Vigeant, entering his seventh year as president, said he is looking forward to a productive 2011.

“Thank you all again for your support,” said Vigeant, in his 18th year on the council. “We had a real good year last year.”

The council unanimously re-elected Councilor Patricia Pope its vice president.

This story originally appeared here