Mohegan tribal chairman promotes idea of bigger share of Pequot/Mohegan fund for Montville

By: Kelly Catalfamo

Montville – Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown drew the attention of town officials Thursday when he said he believes Montville should have a higher share of the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund in the governor’s proposed budget.

Brown, who became chairman in August, addressed residents, town officials and state representatives at Town Council chambers during a discussion on the state of Montville sponsored by the Connecticut Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

Mayor Ronald McDaniel told state representatives in a letter sent earlier this year that he was “outraged” when he discovered the money allotted to the town through the fund – which is composed of money the state collects from the casinos under the slot machine revenue compact – had decreased.

The proposed budget contains 25 percent less aid for Montville under the Pequot/Mohegan fund – $1,113,863, as opposed to 2014’s $1,486,051 – according to a document from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

“It was clear that the (Mohegan-Pequot) funds were provided to recognize the impact on the host communities, and further to ameliorate the impact of the Mohegan Tribe’s taking of real taxable property into local trust and off the local property tax rolls,” said McDaniel in the letter. “This constant short-changing of the host, impacted municipalities needs to stop.”

Speaking to an audience including state Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, and state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, Brown emphasized Thursday that he knew many people worked hard to put the proposed budget together.

“I’m not looking for an overnight solution,” said Brown, who added that he plans to advocate on Montville’s behalf going forward.

“High on my priority list is to engage with our elected officials (to ensure they recognize) the impact on this town when they go about budgeting these impact funds,” he said.

Ryan said he received a letter from the state Office of Policy and Management explaining that Montville’s aid has decreased because the overall fund has decreased, but he plans to meet with OPM officials to request more details.

“We’re trying to get a better explanation for why the money was reduced,” he said.

Brown also announced on Thursday that the tribe will donate $5,000 to Montville High School to support its new lacrosse program.

The money would help fund both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, which is coached by a Mohegan tribal member.

Brown, who is an MHS graduate himself and played intramural lacrosse at West Point, said it’s “pretty cool” to see the Native American sport being played at the high school.

“A new program needs some help,” Brown said, especially when the majority funding for high school sports goes toward football.

McDaniel and Montville school district Superintendent Brian Levesque gave updates on the status of the town, tribe and schools.