May 7, 2012 (Santa Ysabel)-- The Iipay Nation of the Santa Ysabel Tribe is holding its ground against San Diego County demands for a $3 million arbitration settlement. The tribe states that the county projections were unrealistic and fundamentally flawed. The Santa Ysabel Tribe affirms the casino is willing to pay a fair settlement within its actual, not projected, situation.
“While we are absolutely open to payment arrangements,” stated Tribal Chairman Virgil Perez, “We are committed to defending our employees’ livelihoods and standing up for our community. At this point, the county is interested in neither of those things.”
Santa Ysabel Casino employs 120 people and supports multiple charities including the Cuyamaca State Forest and Ramona Nutrition Program by hosting fundraisers. The casino also brings additional traffic to local area businesses and aids the economy of Julian, Ramona and Santa Ysabel.
“We are simply asking for consideration from the county for a payment arrangement that is fair to both parties, while allowing us to continue to employ over 100 local residents. The casino is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary as a part of this community and we look forward to continuing that commitment,” said Chairman Perez.
Many tribal casinos with much greater offsite impact pay no MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) fees to the county; however Santa Ysabel willingly agreed to pay for county improvements to the area.
“We wanted to be proactive to keep our peaceful, rural community intact. We want what is best for the tribe, the local community and County of San Diego,” stated Perez.
Santa Ysabel Casino is current on its obligations to the State of California, as well as the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and would like to reach an agreement with San Diego County, a press release issued by the tribe states. Though efforts were made through arbitration to find a fair and reasonable settlement, the county was unwilling to work with the tribe and its current financial situation, the tribe claims.
Chairman Perez said that due to the economy and unrealistic projections from the original planned casino size, these fees are untenable.
“We believe payments should be calculated based on the actual financials that have been shared with the county,” continued Perez. “The Tribe has been very forthcoming and we are hopeful [the county] will be reasonable. We look forward to a swift and equitable solution to this issue so we can continue to provide for the community we enjoy.”
Supervisor Dianne Jacob has not responded to a request for comment.