OVID – It may be more symbolic than realistic, but the Seneca County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion Tuesday calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to close the Seneca Indian Nation casinos in western New York.
The motion also would required the state to provide each county with the revenue it would otherwise receive if the Senecas had made payments to the state under a 2013 law.
The motion comes before the full board after being approved by the board's Indian Affairs Committee Sept. 22.
Committee Chairman Bob Hayssen, R-Varick, is sponsor of the motion.
It states that the state and the Seneca Nation entered into a compact in 2002 that requires Indian gaming revenue to be shared with the state in return for certain gaming exclusivity rights in western New York.
In 2013, the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act was signed by Cuomo, providing additional revenue to local governments within an Indian exclusivity zone. Seneca is one of seven counties in the eastern Southern Tier zone that was scheduled to receive additional revenue to provide infrastructure and services needed to support the growing gaming industry.
Hayssen said a dispute arose between the state and the Senecas over language within the compact, causing the Senecas to stop making revenue sharing payments to the state.
The motion states that despite a 2019 arbitration decision ruling against the Seneca Nation, the Nation continues to refuse to make payments required under state law, now totaling more than $250 million. It is from this and other Indian gaming payments under the compact that the state sends a portion to local governments to support local service costs.
The motion states this revenue loss amounts to an estimated $13 million annually to the seven counties and over $1 million annually to Seneca County.
The motion states the board calls on Cuomo to take whatever step are necessary to close the Seneca casinos if they continue to not make the required payments. It also asks the state to reimburse the counties for the loss of revenue.
In other agenda items, the board will:
• Conduct a public hearing on Local Law B of 2019, the Seneca County Hotel & Motel Room Occupancy Tax. The law would renew the existing 3 percent room tax for another three years. The current tax expires Dec. 9.
• Be given a presentation on progress being made on the rehabilitation and restoration of the Three Bears Courthouse Complex in Ovid.
• Be given a report on the independent audit of 2018 financial records by Randy Shepard of The Bonadio Group.
• Hear an appeal for county support for the county's five public libraries from Martin Toombs, head of the Seneca Falls Library Board of Directors.
• Be notified of a letter from Waterloo town and village justice Conrad Struzik, asking the county to put $50,000 in the 2020 budget to pay for a part-time clerk for the Centralized Arraignment Plan in light of a new state law ending cash bail for defendants and imposing oher arraingment deadlines that will increase the workload.