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City revokes TIF agreement with Exelon Mystic plant

After months of hushed discussion on the matter, on Monday the City Council voted unanimously in a special meeting requested by Mayor Carlo DeMaria to prematurely decertify and revoke the City of Everett’s 20-year Tax Increment Financing Agreement (TIF) with the Exelon Mystic Generating Station on Alford Street. Much of Monday’s meeting was conducted in “executive session,” a procedure in which the council may privately discuss a matter which relates to “ongoing litigation” involving large sums of money. Upon emerging from the session, the council voted 9-0 to decertify the agreement with no further discussion.

Councillor-at-Large John Hanlon was absent from the meeting; a seat occupied by Councillor-at-Large Michael Mangan, who resigned, and expected to be filled by former Councillor Cynthia Sarnie next week, currently remains vacant.

Councillors have been reluctant to comment or provide details on the issue. In a statement, Mayor Carlo DeMaria said simply that he felt decertifying the agreement “was in the best interest of the City.” Several councillors spoke after the meeting about how Exelon “wasn’t doing its part” under the agreement, but could not divulge any details.

It has been a common subject of conversation in the city for some time; however, that a number of construction projects have occurred at the site which have added value to the property, with no corresponding increase in Exelon’s payments to the City of Everett under their payment formula.

Exelon officials maintain that they have complied with the agreement since its inception. “Exelon and prior Mystic Plant owners have made all payments to and for the benefit of the City of Everett that were negotiated in the original TIF agreement, have paid all taxes due under the TIF, and have complied with all other conditions of the TIF over the past 16 years,” said Exelon Vice President of Public Advocacy Marshall Murphy in a statement. Murphy also indicated that Exelon will “continue to address this legal matter and values its collaborative and cooperative relationship with Everett.”

But Monday’s vote is not the end of the matter. While it signaled the city’s desire to leave the agreement and started the process, the issue will still have to go before the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council for the decertification to be official.

The City’s TIF agreement with Exelon (technically with the owners of the Mystic Generating Station, which has been shuffled between a number of corporate owners in the last two decades, including two distinct stints as owners by Exelon) was first approved in 1998 and went into effect in 2000. Without Monday’s vote, it would have remained in place until at least June 30, 2020. The 20-year term of the agreement was the maximum length of such agreements allowed by the state.

In the late 90s, the station’s current owners, Sithe Energies (acquired by Exelon in 2003) undertook a $604 million project to demolish the site and construct a new natural gas plant. In the midst of this project, Sithe negotiated a TIF with the City that promised to create 1,100 construction jobs and 35 permanent full-time jobs, in exchange for a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with the City. Under this agreement, the company paid $1.5 million to the City in 2000, as well as a one-time, $1 million contribution to the refurbishment of the Central Fire Station.

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