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Cowlitz La Center casino offer running out of time

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June 2, 2009

LA CENTER, WA - The La Center city council will meet at 7 p.m. June 10 to discuss the potential for negotiations with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

Three of the five council members have already said they are adamantly opposed to helping the tribe build a $510 million casino complex west of La Center.

Councilwoman Linda Tracy said, "I am not in favor of negotiating. I never have been. And I never will be."

Last July, the Cowlitz Tribal Council voted 17-3 to reconfirm a 2006 offer to the city not to reduce its provisions for one year while it waits for an answer. The offer expires July 14, which prompted Mayor Jim Irish to schedule next week's discussion. It will be held in the community center in case of a large turnout.

The tribe's 2006 proposal would help pay for La Center's sewer expansion and also pay the city up to $3 million annually for 10 years for lost gambling taxes from its four non-tribal card rooms.

Mayor Irish favors negotiations over the Cowlitz casino and feels La Center has a responsibility to "get the best possible package in place to protect the city, our local businesses and the citizens in case it is approved."

Council members Bill Birdwell and Mike Nolan have supported negotiations in the past, but three remain opposed.

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