In Arizona and the federally-recognized Pascua Yaqui Tribe has reportedly launched a charm offensive that could eventually lead to the area around the city of Tucson getting its fifth tribal casino.
According to a Monday report from the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, the tribe is hoping to have an almost 14.4-acre plot of land it purchased in 2011 placed into trust by the federal government. This would purportedly see the parcel incorporated into the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s nearby 1,194-acre reservation and subsequently allowed to host an aboriginal casino.
The newspaper reported that the Pascua Yaqui Tribe consequently wants to use some 1.7 acres of the newly-protected parcel, which once hosted a drive-in movie theater, for ceremonial and cultural activities while setting aside the remainder for ‘economic or community development purposes.’ It detailed that these could include a tribal casino alongside other schemes such as a hotel as well as retail and housing projects.
However, before it lodges its land-into-trust application with the federal government, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has reportedly endeavored to take the ‘necessary first step’ of getting the support of officials in Tucson. In exchange for civic leaders agreeing to back its plan for the site just to the west of Arizona’s second largest community, the tribe has purportedly proposed inking an inter-governmental revenue-sharing deal that would see it make ‘payments in lieu of tax’ covering ‘almost all currently predicted uses at the site.’
The Arizona Daily Star reported that the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has proposed that such an arrangement would see it agree to pay specific transaction privilege taxes to the city based on revenues earned from precisely defined activities. These would purportedly include a 2.6% duty on all retail liquor sales in addition to a 2% levy on the gross proceeds from any new construction.
In exchange, the newspaper reported that Tucson would moreover agree to provide water to any new non-casino facilities on the site while cross-deputizing some of its police officers so that they would be able to safeguard the newly-protected land. The proposal calls for the tribe to remain responsible for the maintenance and operation of all of the concerned parcel’s streets and roads while additionally being required to comply with local building and fire codes.
Finally, the proposed deal from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe would furthermore see an associated oversight group featuring both city and tribal representatives established as well as the creation of a similar body to handle ‘intricate issues involving law enforcement by city officers on tribal lands.’
The Arizona Daily Star reported that the proposed deal is to be discussed at a Tuesday city council meeting although some officials have already recommended approving the arrangement ‘as a beneficial way to address the concerns and opportunities presented by placing the site into trust while preserving and building upon the city’s long-standing and excellent relationship with the tribe.’