Monday, 02 October 2006 04:44

Eldorado Casino agreement

slide21El Dorado County officials have now announced an agreement with the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians announced that will allow construction of a casino in exchange for at least $190 million in payments to the county over 20 years. The county had fought the tribe in state and federal courts for years to block the casino and hotel project, which is planned off Highway 50 in Shingle Springs.

slide22The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians still must deal with lawsuits filed by a citizens group opposed to the casino, but tribal leaders said the settlement with the county removed a major roadblock. A major concern for El Dorado County officials has been the Traffic that will be generated by the planned 85,000-square-foot casino. This agreement would provide $5.2 million each year over 20 years from the tribe to construct diamond lanes to handle the expected traffic flows. The tribe has sought since 1998 to build a $200 million casino on its 160-acre rancheria. Plans also call for a 250-room luxury hotel. County officials said they believed they had reached a reasonable agreement that will bring the legal issues to a conclusion and still protect the county with what has been characterized as an “aggressive agreement”..The agreement calls for the tribe to pay $10 million, or $500,000 per year over 20 years for local law enforcement, and at least $78 million over 20 years to deal with unanticipated impacts on the county. Included will be payments equivalent to or exceeding local sales and hotel taxes so that local businesses aren't placed at a competitive disadvantage. The agreement also will give the county an extra $100,000 a year per additional 100 machines, if the tribe is allowed to operate more than 2,000 Class III slot machines. The tribe also will build a Highway 50 interchange that will allow direct access to and from the reservation. Access currently is over narrow roads maintained by a neighboring homeowners association. A citizens group, Voices for Rural Living, however, plans to continue legal action to block the casino. Stephan Volker, attorney for Voices for Rural Living, said the settlement had all the earmarks of a Faustian pact. "The county got the money in exchange for its soul," he said. Voices for Rural Living announced earlier this month that it had filed a new lawsuit challenging the state Department of Transportation and California Transportation Commission's approval of the Highway 50 interchange for the casino. The Sacramento Bee contributed to this story.

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