NEW BUFFALO — The Pokagon-New Buffalo Area Local Revenue Sharing Board made quick working of disbursing almost $4.2 million, very close to last year’s amount, during its Oct. 8 meeting.  

The funds represent the yearly tribal payment from the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi Indians, which is derived from casino earnings.

The funds are distributed according to the terms of the local agreement that paved the way for the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo Township. The largest share went to New Buffalo Area Schools which received a total of $1.56 million.

The only reimbursement for specific costs was the $19,900 that went to New Buffalo Township for costs associated with the Maudlin Road water pumping station that serves Four Winds Casino.

A request from Berrien County for $44,200 for prosecution, judicial and jail costs and $109,600 for 911 costs, was denied in accordance with the tribe’s stance that only costs over and above the departments’ budgets specifically related to the Four Winds Casino are eligible. County Commissioner Ezra Scott, Berrien County’s LRSB representative, made the argument that these court and 911 costs would not have been incurred if the casino was not there.

Tribal Representative Steve Winchester reaffirmed the tribe’s position and the request was denied.   

The remainder of the yearly tribal payment totaled $4.156 million and was paid in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local taxing bodies and then as discretionary funds.

PILT payments were approved for:  Berrien County, $503,900; New Buffalo Township received $202,500; New Buffalo Schools, $1.5 million; New Buffalo Library, $56,900; Berrien RESA, $199,900, and Lake Michigan College, $191,100.

The remainder of the payment disbursed as discretionary funds went to:  New Buffalo Township which received 40 percent of the remaining funds or $581,300; New Buffalo City at 20 percent or $290,700; Chikaming and Three Oaks townships each receiving 10 percent or $145,300; Berrien County which received 7 percent or $101,700; Three Oaks Village, 5 percent or $72,700; Grand Beach and Michiana Villages each received 2 percent or $29,100 and New Buffalo Schools, New Buffalo Library, Berrien RESA and Lake Michigan College each receiving 1 percent or $14,500.

Next year’s scheduled LRSB meetings will be on Tuesdays, Jan. 14, April 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8 and Oct. 13.  The “at-large” member will be selected before the January meeting by representatives of the involved taxing bodies without a representative on LRSB.

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