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Council Meeting Budget Increase; Gaming Update

By E. Bowers

HOLLYWOOD - The Tribal Council held a special meeting on Dec. 17 to discuss a budget increase, receive an update on the gaming situation in Coconut Creek, and decide on Board management of the smoke shop formerly owned by Howard Tommie.

The Council:

*Approved a budget increase for Brighton, Hollywood, Big Cypress, and Immokalee. Brighton, Hollywood, and Big Cypress, each received a $1.2 million increase. The three reservations, which had an original budget of $2.4 million, now have a total budget of $3.6 million. The Immokalee Reservation received a $300,000 increase, bringing its budget to $1.2 million.

*Received an update on the Tribe's attempts to build a gaming facility in Coconut Creek.

"We have a very anti-gaming municipality," said attorney Martin Perellas in detailing why it has taken so long to get a gaming facility in operation. Perellas, who represents Gaming Management International II, Ltd. (GMI), said that Coconut Creek has asked for a yearly fee of $1 million per square feet of gaming area should Class III gaming ever be approved. According to Perellas, this is an offered number. "We can go back with anything," said Perellas.

However, partner Gary Fears, who is part of the GMI negotiating team said, "We're happy to pay that out of our side of the deal if it means Class III gaming."

Fears indicated that the situation was "very close to the finish line" with the issues of the impact fee, water and sewer, and parking variance remaining to be worked out. Fears estimated the Coconut Creek facility could bring the Tribe around $110 million in revenue per year.

GMI scheduled a workshop after the Council meeting for the Tribal Council to meet with representatives of Coconut Creek.

*Placed the Board in charge of the smoke shop formerly owned by Howard Tommie on an interim basis. The Council will resume control if a better use is found for the property.

*Gave conceptual approval for the purchase of land north of the Brighton Reservation. The land, 1,240 acres in all, is being offered at $1,500 an acre.

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