Seneca County on Warpath with Bureau of Indian Affairs
12/3/2013 12:42:32 AM
By Fred von Wiegen
The Seneca County Board of Supervisors is on the warpath with the Bureau of Indian Affairs over an application by the Cayuga Indian Nation that, if approved, would exempt the Cayugas from paying county and state taxes on some 125 acres of land in Seneca and Cayuga County.
The land-to-grant application was rejected in 2011 by the BIA, but has resurfaced and the Board has recruited Senator Chuck Schumer to arrange a meeting in Washington to clarify the Bureau's position with respect to the status of the application.
Bob Shipley, who chairs the Seneca County Board of Supervisors Indian Affairs Committee, says the Cayugas are attempting to circumvent a Supreme Court decision that clearly disqualifies them from using the land-taken-into-trust option.
Shipley says granting the land to trust application would essentially create a sovereign entity on the land in question, which includes two very profitable Indian-run convenience stores - selling cigarettes and gasoline at bargain basement prices. And that's just a tip of the iceberg, says Shipley:
The County, says Shipley, refuses to accept the Cayugas claim that the nation is exempt from paying property taxes on the 60 parcels of land, totaling about 1100 acres, they own in Seneca County:
Shipley and Robert Hayssen, the Chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors co-authored a sharply-worded letter to the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs expressing the County's concern over the Bureau's failure to respond to its requests for information about the Cayuga Indian's application. Shipley left little doubt how he feels about the Bureau of Indian Affairs:
In the final analysis, explains Shipley, the county will suffer from lack of tax revenues that will be withheld if the Cayugas are given the land-into-trust status they seek. It means the Indian Nation will have no restrictions whatsoever and will have a decided advantage over small business concerns in the county who are required to pay local, state and federal taxes. Shipley says, it's the Board of Supervisors intention to level the playing field for all concerns, so that no one group or individual gets special treatment regardless of who they are.