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Connecticut tribes push bill exempting taxes on tribal lands, which would cost casino towns revenue

Foxwoods Casino
Bob Child
AP Photo
Foxwoods Casino

Two Connecticut towns will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per year if lawmakers pass a bill that allows for a personal property tax exemption on tribal lands. The legislation is backed by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Right now, the towns of Ledyard and Montville collect taxes on furniture, fixtures and other personal property of third-party vendors at both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos.

Ledyard Mayor Fred Allyn III said the towns need this tax money to pay for roads, bridges, police, emergency services and schools that serve the tribes.

“Our police force doubled in staff size since the inception of Foxwoods, and it needs space, not just because we wanted to grow, it’s because the need is there,” Allyn said.

Allyn said Ledyard stands to lose $600,000 and $700,000 in Montville annually.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, said these taxes keep away businesses and the growth of the tribe’s economy.

“It slows down the desire for businesses to want to work on tribal land because if they have to deal with this issue where they are paying higher taxes then if they were anywhere else, because of this nuance, it becomes a hurdle for them to do business here at Mashantucket,” Butler said.

Butler said the tribe is a sovereign nation, and this sort of taxation is an injustice that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country outside of Indigenous lands.

The towns submitted testimony to the state Finance, Bonding, and Revenue Committee of the state legislature opposing the bill. The committee voted 36-15 in favor of the bill earlier this month.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.