January 29, 2013
Spokane County Commissioners Office
The Board of Spokane County Commissioners (BOCC), has unanimously approved a resolution outlining their opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino in Airway Heights and located across from Fairchild Air Force Base.
Earlier this month, the BOCC was released from an agreement with the City of Airway Heights that had prevented the County 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 BOCC threatened to sue after the State Attorney General’s Office opined that it was questionable whether a current legislative body could impose a gag order on future legislative bodies.
Commissioner Todd Mielke said, “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. If we guess wrong, it will take decades for this community to recover.” Mielke was the only County Commissioner in 2010 to vote against the agreement that prohibited the county from commenting on the proposal.
The resolution will be sent to the Federal Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the State of Washington, formally stating their opposition to this project. According to Commissioner Al French, “This project threatens our largest employer and $600 million of economic activity. 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 the City of 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.