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Tribal members lack info

By Pat Ratliff, Klamath Courier staff writer

Klamath Courier, Fort Jones, CA, February 8, 2006, Page 1, column 2

Klamath tribal members lack information and understanding of the
Klamath Tribes Revenue Allocation Plan, which will be finalized soon.

Various tribal members have contacted the Klamath Courier,
complaining of the lack of information provided in the Allocation
Plan report, which was mailed to every tribal member.

According to the report, a Klamath Tribes Revenue Allocation (KTRAP)
team held community meetings in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Pendleton,
Madras, Klamath Falls, Chiloquin and Beatty to give an update on what
the unmet needs are for the Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services
and Administration Programs and to provide information on the
financial status of Kla-Mo-Ya Casino and discussion on excess net
gaming revenue.

According to some tribal members, the meetings were not well
advertised and attendance was small, with only 5-8 members attending
some of the meetings.  There are approximately 3,587 tribal members.
Some tribal members feel the Plan does not explain well enough the
important choices tribal members are faced with, and members need
more information before they make this important decision.  According
to sources, the mailer does not even contain the dates which the
votes need to be returned by.

The ballot contains two matters for tribal members to vote on.
Section A asks what percentages of Gaming Revenues should be
allocated and distributed to each listed Plan category.  Section B
gives options for who should receive per capita payments, if they are
to be distributed.  Three groups are listed as possible recipients of
per capita disbursements, tribal elders - sixty years of age or
older, elders and seniors - fifty-five to fifty-nine years of age, or
all tribal members.

According to the Plan, per capita disbursement has been discussed and
seemed to be an option to pursue.  Pursuant to the Indian Gaming
Regulatory Act that governs Indian tribal gaming; per capita payments
to tribal members can be made only if the tribes have a "Revenue
Allocation Plan" that is formally approved by the Secretary of the
Interior.

The plan attempts to establish a fair and equitable  process for the
Klamath Tribes to distribute excess net gaming revenues derived from
the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino Corporation and is consistent with the Indian
Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) (25 U.S.C. Section 2701 et.
seq.), Klamath Tribal Law and the mission of the Klamath Tribes.  The
plan focuses on strengthening tribal government, tribal
self-sufficiency and promoting tribal economic development.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act provides that gaming net revenues
may be used to fund the following categories:

1. Tribal Government Operations.   The tribes have defined Tribal
Government Operations to include: General Council, Tribal Council,
Enrollment, Office of Tribal Attorney, Judiciary, Law Enforcement,
and other tribal government operations and programs being developed
and hereafter developed whether created directly under Tribal
Council, Judiciary, Law Enforcement, or otherwise.  Additionally,
funding under this category may be used for land acquisitions,
construction, and capital improvements to tribal government offices
and buildings.

2. Tribal Economic Development.  The Tribes have defined Tribal
Economic Development to include: investment in the Klamath Tribes
Self-Sufficiency Trust Fund and any other investment account
established to secure the short term and long term financial needs of
the Klamath Tribes, established and ongoing tribal businesses and
enterprises, and proposed economic development projects, including
but not limited to land acquisitions and land development.

3. General Welfare of the Tribe and its members.  The Tribes have
defined General Welfare to include: all existing programs operated
within Tribal Administration and Klamath Tribal Health and Family
Services, new initiatives, and replacement and restructuring of
existing programs to benefit the general welfare of the Klamath Tribe
and its tribal members.

4. Donations to Charitable Organizations.  The Tribes have defined
Charitable Organizations as charitable organizations that are federal
tax exempt corporations or foundations recognized under the United
States Internal Revenue Code section 501 (c).

5. State and Local Governmental Agencies.  Include all State and
local government agencies.

Additional Category:

Individual Per Capita Payments:  If approved by the General Council
and Secretary of the Interior, this will be a payment to all tribal
members in equal amounts, or to a selected group of tribal members in
equal amounts (i.e. elders or seniors and elders).  These payments
are subject to taxes.

Administration costs:  There will be administration costs for
administering the allocations and distributions approved by the plan.
For example, salary for employees to perform the administrative  work
such as certifying roll, keeping track of addresses, processing per
capita payments, monitoring trust funds, accepting and reviewing
petitions for release of minor and incompetent funds, Tribal Court
review, etc.

The total administrative cost will be taken from the excess net
gaming revenue on an annual basis before the revenue is distributed
to the categories in accordance with the approved percentages.

The Plan contains two notices of importance to remember:

1. Per capita is taxable income.

2. All final options are subject to approval by the Secretary of the
Interior in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and
implementing regulations.  If the options that obtain majority vote
are not approved by the Secretary of the Interior, the Tribal Council
will negotiate with the Secretary of the Interior or appropriate
Bureau official to gain approval of the revenue allocation plan
allocation and distribution percentages in amounts that are as close
as possible to those options that obtain the majority of votes.

Tribal members face an important decision deciding the disposition of
revenues from the Kla-Mo-Ya casino.   The sample figures given
indicate a large amount of money initially, but smaller amounts per
capita depending on which group of recipients is chosen, if any.  The
three categories of Tribal Government Operations, Tribal Economic
Development and General Welfare take a combined $855,000 from the
total amount available in the plan.  According to some tribal
members, the Tribal Health and Family Services has been running "in
the red" and needs additional funding, but other categories, such as
Tribal Government Operations, raise more questions.  No spending plan
for the additional money has been released.  Members feel they need
such information to make intelligent decisions, before voting on a
baseline plan which will carry through to upcoming years.  Members
also question the money going to Economic Development funds, as
Economic Development already receives approximately $35,000 per
quarter from the Tribe, yet has seen little or no results from its
activities.  Hard figures are needed by members to make hard
decisions for their future.

The per capita figures clearly demonstrate no one is going to get
rich from proceeds from the Kla-Mo-Ya casino.  The large amounts
marked for Tribal Government use, Economic Development and General
Welfare use also demonstrate the need for further information to
Tribal members, including a spending plan, before these landmark
decisions are voted upon.
 

 

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