|SNOQUALMIE SEATTLE CASINO: Projected profits have not eventuated.|
The Native American casino team the investor Larry Claunch says will help him develop the casino in Denerau and Suva has been revealed to be bringing in just a quarter of the revenue it promised its 600-strong members.
Claunch was granted the exclusive licence to run Fiji's first casino this week and he named the Snoqualmie tribe as the outfit that would help him develop the casinos.
But the Seattle Times has revealed Snoqualmie has failed to generate the profits tribal members expected, despite the showpiece casino it opened in Seattle last November. In an article titled 'Big pay off eluding tribe,' reporter Lynda Mapes says she has obtained information which shows Snoqualmie has been faced with budget cuts and layoffs.
She cites a memo written by a grant and contract administration consultant, Henry Grant, to the tribal council and administrator which says: "The adopted budget for 2009 ... has proved to be wildly inaccurate. Gaming revenue is $250,000 a month instead of $1,000,000 a month. A combination of cutbacks and loan funding is imperative to avoid financial collapse."
The Seattle Times also says the tribe is in political turmoil again thanks to a dispute over elections in 2008, and that it continues to be wracked by a fallout in the leadership, to the point it's not meeting regularly.
The paper says the memo singled out unresolved federal audit findings questioning costs dating back to 2004 that could potentially exceed $1 million saying the tribe is working with old overhead rates on contracts, which hurts cash flow and that finance office is not staffed to handle the volume and complexity of transactions it sees.
It also says staff lacks training.
The administrator Henry Flood reveals Snoqualmie was not keeping current on reimbursements on some contracts and grants, had advanced "large sums of money" without getting paid back, and that inaccurate record keeping made getting paid more challenging. Flood also found the tribe has "major problems" organizing, tracking and monitoring its awarded contracts and grants, and that financial reports on many grants and contracts are 'delinquent.'
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Indian Affairs says the tribe can't fix these problems because it's been plagued by infighting and that the tribe's administrative offices were padlocked and some of its federal funds frozen.
The Seattle Times story quotes a tribal administrator Matt Matson as saying he "closed the tribal center and central records facility to allow all parties to think about their options." He said the tribe was facing the prospect of the U.S. government assuming administrative control of the tribal government.
According to the Seattle Times, the tribe's casino has continued to function but there are questions about how much longer.
Big pay off eluding troubled tribe