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An illustration of the Wilton Rancheria’s proposed casino-resort in Elk Grove.

The Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) board on April 1 unanimously approved an agreement with the Wilton Rancheria to provide fire and emergency medical services for the tribe’s proposed casino-resort in Elk Grove.

Under this Memorandum of Understanding agreement, the Wilton Rancheria will make several large contributions to the CSD, which include a one-time payment of $805,500, funding for a new fire truck, and an annual payment of $887,500 that begins after the casino opens.

The Wilton Rancheria plans to open their 35-acre casino-resort near the corner of Kammerer and Grant Line roads in late 2021. Much of the casino site is located at the abandoned Outlet Collection at Elk Grove site.

As part of the CSD’s new agreement with Wilton Rancheria, Cosumnes Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin said that the Cosumnes Fire Department will be the primary agency to provide fire services for the casino.

“We’re excited for our future and our generational partnership between the tribe and the (CSD),” Wilton Rancheria Chair Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock told the CSD board.

Several CSD directors also praised the new agreement.

“It took a lot of years and a lot of conversations in just making sure that the stars are aligned to make sure we have something that is mutually beneficial,” CSD Director Rod Brewer said.

The board’s April 1 meeting was a video conference that was held online; participants used computer video cameras to communicate. The CSD board is holding remote meetings to avoid gathering at their district’s administration building during the coronavirus situation.

During his comments to the CSD board, Hitchcock delivered a short history of the Wilton Rancheria and their casino project. He noted his tribe’s milestone in securing their Elk Grove land for their casino site into a tribal land trust in 2017.

Since the Wilton Rancheria is federally recognized as a sovereign nation, then they are not obligated to pay property taxes that would otherwise fund the CSD, Hitchcock said.

In the absence of those tax revenues, the tribe’s new agreement with the CSD is designed to fund fire protection for the casino-resort.

Some of Wilton Rancheria’s future payments to the CSD would be similar to what a project owner would normally pay for property taxes and development impact fees in the CSD’s jurisdiction. For instance, Wilton Rancheria’s scheduled $805,500 one-time payment to the CSD will represent the development impact fees that the district would regularly charge for a large development project, according to a CSD staff report.

Hitchcock said that Wilton Rancheria spent the past few months working with CSD officials on an agreement with their district.

“You are the lifeline between the safety of our future employees and patrons, (you are) the protectors of our gaming facility in the case of any structural emergency,” he told the CSD board.

CSD Director Jaclyn Moreno complimented the fire chief for the Wilton Rancheria agreement before the board voted on that proposal.  

“I was pleasantly surprised to see so many dollars going toward the community benefit, which is a sign of your leadership and a great partnership with the tribe,” she told McLaughlin.