2017-06-29 / Local News

Gaming fund requests needed to balance the county budget

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

Leelanau County is asking the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to provide $131,483 in “2-percent” casino revenue sharing funds to pay for services the county government provides the tribe.

The request represents the first time in many years that county government has not asked for “2-percent” payments on behalf of non-profits, religious or other nongovernmental organizations. Nearly half of what the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners is asking for, $65,000, would be used to cover expected budget shortfalls in the county’s Senior Services Department.

For many years, the County Board endorsed applications for “2-percent funding” on behalf of nearly any nonprofit organization requesting money from the tribe. More recently, the county has been requiring that those organizations have a contract with the county and provide “governmental services.” In the most recent bi-annual payout, made in February, the tribe provided $20,000 for senior services programs administered through the nonprofit Leelanau Christian Neighbors organization.

County administrator Chet Janik noted that no non-profits or other nongovernmental organizations are included in the county’s requests for 2-percent funding for the second half of 2017.

Under terms of a 1993 federal court consent decree, the tribe is obligated to pay out two-percent of its slot machine revenues twice yearly to local units of government in the “immediate vicinity” of tribal casinos for “governmental services” provided to the tribe. The tribe does not pay local property taxes on its casino properties or any of the reservation land held in federal trust for the tribe.

The Tribal Council will decide next month which of the dozens of 2-percent requests received through units of government within its six-county service area it will honor. In February, units of government in Leelanau County received about 25-percent of the nearly $885,000 paid out by the tribe.

At its regular monthly meeting last week, the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners approved a list of requests for “2-percent” payments in 7-0 votes except for one item. District No. 1 Commissioner Tony Ansorge cast the lone “no” vote on a request for $10,000 to help relocate a solid waste recycling site in Northport. Ansorge has long maintained that his district, in Elmwood Township, has not received its fair share of funding for the solid waste recycling site it hosts.

Here are the county’s requests for “2-percent” funding, which have been sent to the Tribal Council for consideration in the weeks ahead:

 $23,683 to the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office to replace “conducted electrical weapons,” commonly known as tasers.

 $6,300 to the county’s Equalization Department to pay for a specialized Global Positioning System unit that will be used in mapping tax parcels.

 $24,000 to the county’s Solid Waste Council to fund the county’s recycling site on the tribal reservation in Peshawbestown, as well as pay for special household hazardous and electronics recycling collections.

 $10,000 to the Solid Waste Council to pay for the relocation of a recycling site in Northport.

 $2,500 for a generator inverter that will be installed on a mobile command post used by the county’s Emergency Management department.

 $65,000 to help fund the county Senior Services Department’s “home respite care” program and other programs.

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