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Casino application still in Washington

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 26, 2007
— The Beloit Casino Project application is going nowhere fast.

The application in January went to Washington, D.C., for federal approval.


It’s still there in a pile of others from across the United States.


The Bad River and St. Croix bands of Chippewa have been working on the off-site casino proposal since 2000 when 61 percent of Beloit voters supported building a complex just west of Interstate 90/39.


An off-site casino is one built off a tribe’s reservation. The Chippewa reservation is in northern Wisconsin.


Beloit officials and tribe members have gone frequently to Washington to show support for the casino.


Recently, project spokesman Joe Hunt was there asking Secretary of Indian Affairs Carl Artman what Beloit can do to help move the application forward.


“We got no straight answers,” Hunt said.


For Rock County, the wait translates into $145 million.


That’s what the Bad River and St. Croix bands will pay Beloit to cover the cost of taking the 26-acre site off the tax roll and into trust for the tribes. The city will pass on 30 percent of that to Rock County.


The payment is also meant to cover services and infrastructure for the casino complex.


And—maybe—there will be a little extra to put toward other projects.


“Exactly how much it will cost the city and the county to provide the services that might be required by the casino … those numbers are somewhat vague,” said Rock County Administrator Craig Knutson. “We think and hope it would be somewhat less than the amount the tribes will pay.”


The $145 million will come in payments over 10 years starting with $9 million in each of the first two years.


The primary reason the county is supporting the project is the 3,000 jobs the tribes say the casino and surrounding complex would provide, Knutson said.


The $300 million, two-phase project includes a 100,000-square-foot casino, a convention center, restaurants, a gift shop and a childcare facility on the trust site.


The tribes plan to build a hotel, theater, indoor water park and parking facilities on 33 adjacent acres.


WHAT’S NEXT

-- The Beloit Casino Project application is in a pile with hundreds of others from around the United States. The applications are for casinos or other projects needing to put land into trust.


When land is put into trust, it is taken off a municipal tax roll and placed in a tax-free trust in the name of a sovereign American Indian tribe.


-- The application will need approval from Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Carl Artman and his boss, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.


-- Finally, the application will be in the hands of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, who has veto power. Doyle has not said if he is for or against the project.



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