On Tuesday, New York State Senator Pam Helming urged the Bureau of Indian Affairs to deny the Cayuga Indian Nation’s request to place additional lands ‘in trust’.
A day later, Sen. Helming was joined by Assemblyman Gary Finch, who co-authored a second letter to the Bureau requesting that the 30-day comment period be extended to 120-days.
The CIN has already purchased 1,300 acres of land in Seneca and Cayuga counties. Officials have struggled with the CIN not paying taxes on much of this property for more than a decade.
Now, the CIN is seeking out the opportunity to place another 129 acres of land ‘in trust’. In addition to owning the property, the CIN operates several businesses, which are not contributing sales tax.
According to Sen. Helming, the impact has been devastating. “If the Cayuga Indian Nation is granted land-into-trust status, they will be allowed to develop and reap the financial rewards from land in Cayuga and Seneca counties without having to obey most local and state laws,” she said in the first letter to Bruce Maytubby, Sr., Regional Director of the Eastern Office for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The second letter, written by the legislative duo read, “It is our understanding that the local municipalities were given a 20-day comment period on the Cayuga Indian Nation’s application.” They called that amount of time ‘inadequate’ and asked for more time to complete a precise review of the application.
“Additionally, they will be exempt from paying local property taxes, which support our schools and infrastructure. Instead, this burden will fall entirely on other local residents who are already paying more than their fair share,” she continued. “I strongly urge the Bureau of Indian Affairs to deny this request.”
Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Shipley (R-Waterloo) argued at last month’s meeting that it was time for equity on the topic. “This has been going on for well-over a decade. It has the biggest impact on our young people, the future of this county,” he explained. “We’re happy to have received so much support from our state representatives.”
The County was given 30 days to respond to the claim, in which opponents of the trust agreement said was not sufficient for effective review or recourse.