Oneida County Legislature passes agreement with Oneida Nation
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Oneida County Legislature passed a vote on 16 to 13 on the agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement about the decision:
“I commend the Oneida County Legislature for voting to approve the agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation. This compact treats all parties with fairness and respect, provides the county and the state with a consistent source of revenue for the future and gives the Oneida Nation financial security. By working together, we put to an end the decades of litigation and vitriol that have previously strained relations between the Oneidas, its neighbors and the State of New York, and took a huge step toward shared prosperity.”
With or without Oneida County's support, the plan will take effect, only having Oneida County lose the benefits.
"Unfortunately we have a governor that's ramrodding another thing through, without public comment," said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R) 101st District. "Very disappointing that the Oneida County Legislature didn't even have time to consider this."
"At the end of the day we will look at this in the future and we will understand that this was the right way to get this done and to move forward with an issue that has plagued us for too many years," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
In regards to the limited amount of time that the legislators had to review the agreement, he says many of them knew this was in the works and he invited all of them to come to his office with questions. "I offered to both sides of the aisle from day one the opportunity to review this agreement thoroughly and individually with each and every legislator," said Picente. "Many of them took me up on that. Many of them came out against it before any agreement was presented. Before we even announced it so to them I can't apologize or anything because they didn't come and ask."
"I find the interesting thing is the governor. I mean words like blackmail and extortion were used today and he threatened the counties and said you take this deal or I will not defend or provide legal council to the state and the counties," said Tenney. "He is required by state law to defend our sovereignty and that's not being done today and this was a terrible travesty. It's a true good versus evil comparison here and I just hope that we could put up a fight and let good prevail for once."
"Hopefully we can repair what has been done," said Picente. "I know it will take some time and some people we will never get who are in opposition and that may stay that way but our goal here is to try and build upon this and make this community, this county better and I think that this agreement outlines that."
The settlement was announced by the Nation, Oneida and Madison County and the Governor on May 16.
The agreement plans to bring Oneida County $12.5 million annually from gaming machine revenue and another $48 million in back taxes, to be disbursed at a rate of around $2 million a year until that amount is paid. Also, the Nation would not put any more land into trust.
Madison County is voting on Wednesday. Madison County does not need to approve the settlement in order for the other to take affect.
Here is a breakdown of how the Oneida County Legislators voted.