When the owners of M Resort showed an interest in Henderson, city officials made things as accommodating as possible — they even deferred payments for several years.
Now, owners of M Resort owe the city of Henderson roughly $15 million from an agreement signed more than a decade ago, documents obtained by the Review-Journal show.
“The city went out of its way to help out a large development and the favor wasn’t returned,” Henderson City Attorney Josh Reid said. “It’s pretty frustrating. They owe the people of Henderson a lot of money, and the city has needs.”
According to the February 2008 agreement, the owners were supposed to repay the city nearly $8 million for water and sewer infrastructure, plus $7 million to build a pending fire station.
The city deferred the payment for several years because the area was seen as the gateway into west Henderson and city officials were excited to get that project rolling. Additional city resources were used to merge Volunteer Road to M Resort, and last year the city purchased a $1 million ladder truck for fire services to the area.
Anthony Marnell III opened the nearly $1 billion M Resort in 2009, but the casino-hotel was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2010 and Marnell asked to defer payments until the expansion of phase two. Penn National Gaming took control of M Resort in October 2011.
Reid said the payment was triggered in 2012, when the new owners installed a permanent tent structure used to house concerts and conventions.
“We have been engaged in an open dialogue with the city over its questions related to the construction and use of the event tent at the M Resort,” said Mark E. Ferrario, an attorney for M Resort. “We are in the process of clearing up what appears to have been an misunderstanding related to the tent and remain open to answering any further questions or concern on the city’s part.”
Despite annual reviews of the development agreement, city officials missed the payments until last year, when an internal audit brought it to light, Reid said. The two sides have been working on a fix since April 2016, Reid said.
“We are continuing to work with Penn Gaming while also protecting the interests of the city on this matter,” Henderson Mayor Debra March said in a statement. “This includes active discussions with this valuable member of the business community about the city’s original investment in building the water and wastewater infrastructure to serve the M Resort and other related issues.”
Penn National, based in Pennsylvania, operates 23 casinos in several locations, including the Tropicana in Las Vegas.
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