Yolo County and the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians are likely headed for arbitration after negotiations concerning an expansion of Cache Creek Casino failed.
The expansion would triple the size of the casino and increase the number of available hotel rooms from 200 to 667, a development tribal representatives say could infuse a total of $90 million into Yolo County’s economy.
The county and tribal leaders cannot agree on what needs to be done to provide for the impacts of the casino expansion.
“It’s not so much an objection about the expansion,” said Yolo County supervisor Mike McGowan, who has been involved in negotiations for the county. “It’s a concern about the impacts of the expansion, and making sure that those concerns are adequately mitigated for.
“To improve the safety and congestion of Highway 16 is probably in the range of $50 million, and the tribe is not offering to pay that,” he said.
Improvements of Highway 16 are only part of the problem, McGowan said. If the casino is built, Yolo County may also have to initiate significant water and sewer projects as well as increasing fire and law enforcement services.
The tribe has said that the expansion will establish Cache Creek as a “destination resort” similar to other larger Indian casinos in California.
“There are things about it that we like,” McGowan said.
Currently most of Cache Creek’s patrons come from the Sacramento and Bay areas, who typically come to gamble and leave, but if Cache Creek attracted people from all over California and the U.S., it could potentially increase tourism to the Capay Valley as well as Yolo County.
Much of the debate lies with disagreements over the Tribal Environmental Impact Report, a document prepared by the tribe to predict the impact of the expansion.
The county does not agree that the TEIR is sufficient, McGowan said. As a result of this, the county paid thousands of dollars to have their own Environmental Impact Report to help them in their negotiations.
In a press release by the tribe earlier this month general manager of Cache Creek Casino Randy Takemoto said the tribe was “perplexed” by county official’s statements.
Takemoto said the offer submitted by the tribe “goes above and beyond its legal obligations under its Tribal-State Compact. Specifically, the Tribe has offered to mitigate its project’s potentially significant off-reservation environmental impacts and to pay the county the cost of law enforcement, fire protection and public safety services it must provide for the project.”
Additionally, Takemoto said the offer included tax revenue the county wouldn’t otherwise be able to receive because of the tribe’s sovereignty.
“The accusation, therefore, that county taxpayers will be burdened by the resort expansion is completely false.… The tribe stands by its offer, which, if accepted, would open the door to a project that would employ hundreds of county residents and provide economic benefits to all of Yolo County.”
If the matter goes to arbitration, any negotiations will likely cease, and an arbitrator will have to pick one offer or the other.
JON GJERDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.