By: Glenn Coin
Albany, N.Y. — For the first time since Turning Stone casino opened in 1993, the Oneida Indian nation has started sharing its profits with the state.
The Oneidas this week paid $11 million to the state, the first installment required by the sweeping settlement ratified by a federal judge last week. That money will be transferred to Madison County in “full satisfaction of tax revenues of any kind” that the county will not get from Oneida-owned land.
The wide-ranging settlement ends decades of legal battles over land and taxes between the Oneida nation and Madison and Oneida counties. It also allows the nation to get 25,000 acres of land set aside by the federal government for the tribe’s use. That land is not taxable and is not subject to state or local control.
The settlement also calls for the Oneidas to pay 25 percent of the revenues from its 2,000 slot machines at Turning Stone. The payment will be an estimated $50 million a year. In return, the Oneidas get the exclusive rights to operate a casino in nine Central New York counties.
Here’s what else will happen now that the agreement is final:
— Oneida nation police will be given police powers in Oneida County even when they’re not on nation-owned land.
— More than 13,000 acres of Oneida-owned land will be taken over by the federal government as trust land. That means the land will no longer be subject to state and local control or taxes.
— The Oneidas can apply to have 12,000 more acres put into trust.
— Madison and Oneida counties will drop all lawsuits challenging the tax status of Oneida nation land.
— Madison County gets $3.5 million a year, and Oneida County gets $2.5 million a year plus 25 percent of the money the nation pays to the state. All of this money comes from the money paid by the Oneidas to the state.
— Eight other counties will get money from the nation payment. Onondaga County is expected to get $2.5 million, which County Executive Joanie Mahoney plans to use to pay for a proposed amphitheater near Onondaga Lake.
— The Oneidas will charge – and keep – the same sales taxes on goods that are taxed by the state, and taxes equal to what the state charges on cigarettes and gasoline.