Rohnert Park and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have agreed to a new revenue-sharing deal worth $40 million more than one they signed in 2003. The agreement is intended to more fully address the impacts of the casino the tribe is now building.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the new agreement. Should the casino's earnings meet projections, the tribe is to pay $251 million to the city over 20 years for public safety, education, traffic improvements and other services.
"We have to hope it will be successful," Councilman Amy Ahanotu said of the 3,000-slot machine casino, projected to open late this year. "The city will also benefit."
The most significant new addition to the agreement is an annual $2,369,000 payment to the city "to mitigate potential impacts" from the casino.
The document says the city intends to use the money in part for staffing to cope with impacts on public safety and other unspecified city services.
It also says the tribe will pay $3.75 million for a new public safety building west of Highway 101; the previous deal was for $2.25 million.
Council members who long have opposed the casino lauded both the new agreement and the tribe.
"This is even better than the last one, and I thought the last one was outstanding," Vice-Mayor Joe Callinan said, referring to the 2003 agreement, which promised the city $211 million over 20 years.
"I never thought I'd say this," Mayor Pam Stafford said, "but the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria could not have been more responsible . . . I really, really appreciate this."
Officials from the tribe were not present at Tuesday's meeting.
The impetus for renegotiating the deal was twofold, city officials said: First, the original agreement envisioned the casino being at Stony Point Road and Rohnert Park Expressway, rather than its current 66-acre site on Wilfred Avenue. Also, the new site is on land the city once planned to annex, which means it will lose tax revenue it had banked on.