Commissioners united in saying no to Spokane Tribe’s proposa
Spokane County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution at their Jan. 29 meeting outlining their opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino in Airway Heights located, across from Fairchild Air Force Base.
Earlier this month, the board was released from an agreement with the city of Airway Heights that had prevented the commissioners from commenting on the proposed casino in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. Initially, the city of Airway Heights opposed rescinding the agreement, but the board threatened to sue after the state Attorney General’s Office released an opinion that it was questionable whether a current legislative body could impose a gag order on future legislative bodies.
“Spokane County Commissioners have a duty to be a voice for the citizens of the region. We are literally being asked to gamble the 5,000 current jobs provided by Fairchild on a project that may provide significantly fewer than that,” Commissioner Todd Mielke said at the meeting. “If we guess wrong, it will take decades for this community to recover.”
Mielke was the only commissioner in 2010 to vote against the agreement that prohibited the board from commenting on the proposal. The board unanimously approved the resolution that will be sent to the Federal Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state of Washington, now formally stating their opposition.
“This project threatens our largest employer and $600 million of economic activity,” Commissioner Al French said in a news release. “It would also deprive the county and regional agencies of the revenue gained through sales taxes that drive desired and needed regional services.”
The Spokane Tribe is seeking federal approval to build a casino and resort on 145 acres annexed to Airway Heights. At issue is the location of the project, which the County Commissioners assert is too close to the base and could cause the Air Force to reduce the role of Fairchild in training air crews and/or housing the next generation of tanker aircraft.
Editor’s note: Reached at home late Tuesday evening, former Spokane Tribal Council Chairman and current Councilman Greg Abrahamson said he had been traveling lately, wasn’t up on current developments with the county regarding the project and wasn’t prepared to comment. He noted that the tribe has attempted to work with all regional entities on the project in order to reduce any impacts on Fairchild.