The Madison County Board of Supervisors has approved the land claim and gaming settlement with the Oneida Indian Nation, but with â??great reluctanceâ??.
In a vote Thursday morning, the supervisors approved the agreement between the state, Oneida and Madison counties, and the Oneida Nation by a margin of 10 "yes" to eight "no" with one supervisor absent.
Madison County employs a weighted voting system, where some supervisorsâ?? votes have more pull than others due to population distribution. The weighted vote was 847 for to 653 opposed.
Each supervisor addressed the board before the vote and not one was entirely satisfied with the results.
John Becker, the boardâ??s chairman, said the governor Gov. Andrew Cuomo will do the deal with or without Oneida and Madison counties. He added, â??We have no more recourseâ??.
Becker went on to say theyâ??re seeing the state of American politics. â??It stinks. Itâ??s terrible," says Becker.
He says he was obligated to go along with the settlement or else he would have been negotiating in bad faith.
Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter issued a statement Thursday morning in response to the Madison County vote, saying: â??The Oneida Nation congratulates Oneida and Madison County for approving this historic agreement. We look forward to working together with the counties and the state as we begin a new chapter of shared prosperity for our entire community.â??
Gov. Cuomo also issued a statement, saying: â??I commend the Madison County Board of Supervisors for joining with the Oneida County Legislature to approve the agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation. This compact will end the decades of litigation and vitriol that have defined the relations between the Oneidas, their neighbors and the state, and create a path to future prosperity and cooperation for all. I look forward to continuing to work with them and our partners in the State Legislature to take the final steps to ratify this agreement.â??
On May 16, the Oneida Nation agreed to effectively end its decades-long land claim in Oneida and Madison counties in exchange for exclusive rights to operate a casino in Central New York.
If approved, the state will receive 25% of gaming revenue generated by Turning Stone Resort, and the Oneidas will end its claim to land in Oneida and Madison counties.
The Oneida Indian will also receive the right to run the casino without competition from proposed non-Indian gaming facilities.
Initial estimates place the possible state revenue from Turning Stone at $50 million per year. In return for the revenue generated by the agreement, the counties will agree to drop their own lawsuits against the Nation.
The Oneida Nation would charge an equivalent to New York sales tax but that money would be kept by the Oneidas to pay for their own government expenses.
If Governor Cuomo's legislation that would expand gaming in New York is passed, eight Central New York Counties would share 10% of the slot machine revenue. Even without Cuomo's gaming legislation, Oneida County is guaranteed $2.5 million a year from the state's share of slot machine revenue. Madison County will be guaranteed $3.5 million a year.
The proposed deal would cap the amount of land the Oneida Nation could place into a trust at 17,000 acres in Oneida County and 8,000 acres in Madison County.