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PILT Funds May Not Be Enough For Casino Expansion

As of June 9, 2007, the real estate value of the Little River Casino facility continues to grow as the size of the casino expanded by 192 rooms with the addition of an entertainment center that can accommodate 1,700 people.

The amount of cash collected from its slot machines has not been keeping up with its expansion rate and the Manistee County Administrator, Tom Kaminski, is concerned that the local profit sharing funds given by 2% of the slot machine revenues may soon not be enough to support the local payments with the taxes (PILT) and the safety grants.

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, under the terms of an agreement with the Michigan Legislature that permits the construction of the casino facility, is required to give local governments 2% of slot machine revenues and an additional 8% to the state of Michigan.

The local profit is managed by the 3 member Manistee Local Revenue Sharing Board. The Board, which has members from the Manistee County Board of Commissioners, Manistee City Council and the Manistee Township Board of Trustees, gives PILT cash to local governments that would have been able to get taxes on the casino facility if it was not given in trust for the tribe by the federal government, which cannot be taxed by the state government.

The board is also required to pay 12.5% of the cash that it receives in the form of safety grants. It also receives many requests for money grants from local governments and state agencies and gives some money to those requests, provided that there is still some cash left after the PILT and safety funds are gone.

The officials of the tribe made their latest local payment of $991,000 to the Manistee County Officials on Friday, June 8, 2007. That represents 2% of the slot machines revenues for 6 months.

The yearly PILT payments during the grant cycle in November 2006 were $993,585 for the Manistee Area Public Schools, $386,379 for Manistee County, $146,977 for West Shore Community College, $98,540 for the Manistee Intermediate School District and $84,067 for the Manistee Township.

The profit sharing board may have to wait until they receive their 6 month payment before paying out more PILT payments, but the amount that would remain for public safety money is unknown.

The Manager of the Little River Casino, Jim LaPorte, commented that there are no immediate plans to add more slot machines to the casino during the expansion.

Nonetheless, he stated that the tribe is hoping to attract more visitors to the resort when their expansion project is completed. That could mean an improvement in slot machines profits from the customers that are staying in the additional 192 rooms.


Thursday, 28 June 2007
Caroline Mitchell