BIDDEFORD – A political action committee that was formed to support the Biddeford Downs racino proposal spent more than $170,000 on the successful referendum campaign this fall.

Biddeford’s city clerk said that’s likely a record amount for a municipal ballot question.

The committee, known as Pepperell Downs, reported the spending in its final campaign finance report. The report said the entire $171,423.23 spent on the campaign was provided by Ocean Properties Ltd., Scarborough Downs’ partner in proposing a racino complex in Biddeford.

The Nov. 2 ballot proposal to allow the city to host a facility with harness racing and slot machines won with 59 percent of the vote. The project now awaits action by the Legislature, which would need to change a state law for the project to move forward.

According to the final report, Pepperell Downs paid Stones Phones Inc. in Rancho Mirage, Calif., a total of $23,646 for phone bank services, the largest single expenditure.

The PAC also paid $21,231 to Canney Communications for consulting and professional services.

Advertising costs for television and newspapers totalled $24,145.

The $125 million project would be built on city-owned land west of the Maine Turnpike. The developers say the resort complex would create 500 full-time jobs.

The PAC formed by citizens who opposed the racino, Citizens Against a Bad Deal, has not filed a final report, said Biddeford City Clerk Carmen Morris. The reports were due Dec. 14.

A spokeswoman for opponents, Ericka Wainberg, said the filing has been delayed by an administrative issue between the committee and its bank. She said she hopes to submit a report soon.

In a filing Oct. 19, Citizens Against a Bad Deal reported spending of $3,327.

Morris said she believed the racino group set a record for city referendum spending.

“Biddeford Downs definitely has spent more money than any local issue that I can remember,” said Morris, who has worked for the city for 16 years. 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]