By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO May 27, 2003 In December 1997, the Village of Monticello and Catskill Development reached an agreement for an Indian gaming casino at Monticello Raceway, including a $5 million/year mitigation payment. The agreement was amended in both 1998 and 1999.
However, a great deal has happened since that time, and the current village board felt the need to review the contract.
Thus, the village held a special work session on Wednesday, May 14 to review the contract. Former Village Attorney Leo Glass, who originally negotiated the agreement, was on hand to review the document. Besides Glass, current Village Attorney Michael Davidoff also provided an overview.
This agreement was reached after many years of discussion, Glass recalled. We negotiated over two years. We created a $5 million payment for the village because we bear almost all of the impact.
Glass outlined the agreement. The agreement calls for the tribe to pay $2.5 million per year into a Community Development Fund. On the seventh anniversary of the opening date of the casino, the $2.5 million shall be increased annually according to the consumer price index (CPI). Once construction begins, the tribe will pay the Village $17,000 per month, and that amount will not exceed $400,000.
During the first two years of operation, the village will receive $96,000 annually. The third year, that amount will rise to $384,000. The village will also receive, starting the first year, an additional $722,800 per year.
For the first two years of operation, the Town of Thompson will receive $11,500 per year. After the third year, that amount increases to $46,000 per year.
Sullivan County will receive $33,000 for the first two years. After the third year, the countys payment will increase to $132,000.
The Monticello School District will receive $65,000 per year for the first two years. After the third year, they will receive $260,000. In addition, the school will get $291,000 starting the first year.
In the third year, the other school districts will receive a total of $634,000. That will depend on the increase in the district. Additionally, there will be a payment of $2,000 per student to any school district which teaches a child of an employee during the first two years.
The Crawford Memorial Library in Monticello will receive $800 for the first two years of operation. After that, they will receive $3,200 annually.
In the agreement, there are also provisions for the increases in police, court, and other services.
This was not taken out of thin air, Davidoff remarked. There are certain obvious necessities. There will be additional impacts. This is a binding agreement.
The floor was open to questions from the board and the public. Board members Mary Jo Oppenheim and David Rosenberg, as well as any representation from the raceway, were not at the meeting.
The BIA will oversee the entire process, Davidoff pointed out. They will contact all of the municipalities involved. They will take care of all issues. They may consider the impacts differently. They may look into increased mitigations.
I applaud the village for the sensitivity they have for this issue, stated County Attorney Ira Cohen. I hope the BIA will look at it closely. They will decide what is in the best interest of the tribe and make sure the project is not detrimental to the community.
The county is supportive of all projects as long as the impacts are mitigated, Cohen continued. There are a lot of hurdles. We will wait and see.
The Cayuga Indian Nation has filed their application with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to take land-in-trust at the racetrack. All involved are waiting on the BIAs determinations.