LCO tells members they are in a financial emergencyThe Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says it is near bankruptcy and $50 million in debt.
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says it is near bankruptcy and $50 million in debt.
A letter to tribal members from its governing board dated August 13 says, “The Tribe is near bankruptcy and to do nothing is not an option.”
Calls to tribal officials have not been returned yet.
The three page letter explains that LCO faces “a serious financial burden of more than $50 million in bonds, bank loans and deferred revenue assessments.”
The governing board blames the slow economy and casino revenue dropping from $6 million in 2006 to $2 million last year. LCO is carrying a $33 million bond for the casino, costing them $285,000 a month. They also say everyone has contributed to the financial crisis, with $21 million spent in the past three years alone on donations, personal loans, emergency assistance, even birthday checks.
Although the letter says tribal employees and members will have to make sacrifices, they have hired business experts to develop a financial recovery plan. They are able to pay for that with a $1 million grant from the Shakopee Sioux tribe.
LCO has 7,000 tribal members, with 2,300 living on the reservation in Sawyer County.