City of Duluth & Fond du Lac Band End Years of Legal Battles
Fond du Lac Band and City End Leagal Battles & Reach New Agreement Over Casino
For seven years the City of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band have been engaged in a series of litigations and after five months of conversations, meetings and negotiations, the two have announced a settlement that allows them to put this chapter behind them and begin writing a new story, together.
Courts have upheld the position that the Band is not required to make payment via revenue sharing, or a fee for service.
And because the original 1984 agreement ceded land in Trust to the Band, there is currently not requirement for aligning development efforts of the Band with the zoning and planning codes other businesses must adhere to.
The agreement Mayor Larson and Tribal Chairman Wally Dupuis have reached addresses all of those areas and establishes a level playing field for all downtown Duluth businesses.
Pending approval by the City Council during a special council meeting Friday they have secured a settlement agreement in which the Fond du Lac Band will be contributing financially to the City of Duluth through a fee for service agreement that reflects the actual cost of doing business downtown: an amount of $150,000 per year which mirrors the same investments other businesses must make to operate and function as part of our downtown community.
This amount is not randomly assigned – its equivalent to property taxes, food and beverage sales and other municipal costs of doing business.
In addition, Fond du Lac will adopt as tribal law the city’s zoning and planning framework so that, while not required to do so on tribal land placed in federal trust, they will apply the same codes and guidelines all other businesses are required to use.
Should, in the future, Fond du Lac choose to build a hotel or motel, the agreement stipulates that they will make an additional financial contribution to the city equivalent to that of taxes paid by other operating hotels and motels.
In exchange, the City of Duluth will drop their litigations and appeals as they relate to the NIGC, Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
This new contract runs for 10 years and will be renegotiated for another 10 years after that.
All told, this contract will run through 2036 – the same time frame of the previous contract.
Mayor Larson said, “Today we begin writing a new chapter between the City of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band. It’s a changed storyline from what we originally predicted, but it is a chapter and a narrative that can bring very good things for both of us. As governments we have lost 7 years of working together. And this, I know, has not been to the benefit of our communities.”
Chairman Dupuis said of the agreement, “The band is pleased to reach this settlement that resolves all of the pending disputes and lawsuits between the Band and the city.”
He added, “The Band’s presence here in the city is not accidental and it is not foreign. It rises from a long and rich history of all these lands having been occupied by the Fond du Lac Band, the Anishinabek. This settlement that we enter today with this city administration brings great hope for the future citizens of the city and the Band. We look to move forward in mutual respect as governments and peoples with a shared interest to provide a higher standard of living for everyone. The Fond du Lac Band has been part of the economy of this area since the first settlers came to the region and it is our vision that we continue playing a role in moving the ball forward.”
Already the two have met, and reviewed options for a Skywalk connection.
Their economic development teams have started meeting.
Lines of communication are now open and the mayor is hopeful that is a reflection of what is to come.
We’ll have much more on this story tonight on Fox 21 News at 6 & 9.