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Tribe to impose a sales tax on June 5 to generate additional revenue

Observer Staff

5/19/2006 12:00:00 AM

A 6 percent Tribal sales tax will be levied by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan on certain goods and services sold on the Isabella Reservation effective June 5.

"Council stands together in the belief that this tax will generate much needed revenue to keep current services to the Tribal membership moving in a positive way," stated Tribal Chief Fred Cantu Jr. in an April 26 letter to the membership. "We believe the Tribal tax will be another successful way to cultivate a revenue stream that has been present and untapped for many years."

The measure primarily applies to prepared food, rooms and banquet hall services at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, as well as retail sales of products and tangible items. This would include items found in the Soaring Eagle and Ziibiwing Center gift shops, plus Sagamok Shell.

Packaged food, cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline and admission fees-museum, concert tickets and other cultural events and services-are excluded from the 6 percent levy. This is a sales tax and not an income tax, so it does not apply to Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan employee wages.

Tribal Ordinance No. 27-a sales tax ordinance-appears on page 8. It was approved by an 8-0-1 vote during an April 12 special meeting of the Tribal Council. Saginaw Chippewa Human Resources posted a job listing for a full-time Tribal Tax director position from March 13 to March 24.

The tax applies to retail sales made on Saginaw Chippewa Tribal lands within the boundaries of the Isabella Reservation, including those within Arenac County (Saganing). The sales tax ordinance does not apply to occasional transactions that are made in the course of a business operation, such as garage sales.

Other Tribes-including Michigan's Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, plus the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, as well as Connecticut's Mash-antucket Pequot Tribe-already levy a local tax on particular goods and services.

The Sagianw Chippewa Tribal membership was made aware of the Tribal sales tax in a mailing containing primarily most of the information presented in the May 1 Tribal Observer. Saginaw Chippewa, including Soaring Eagle, associates and employees were slated to receive the same information with the exception to a different cover letter. Human Resources is scheduled to begin a systematic, mandatory training for all associated and employees after May 8.

Updates on the implementation of the Tribal sales tax are also planned to be placed on, as well as at the next Saginaw Chippewa Tribal community meeting tentatively planned for Aug. 3. There is also an informative seminar planned for May 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Tribal Operations Gymnasium.

"I am pleased our Council was walking forward together on this decision that has been in the works through many different administrations," Cantu also stated.