Reno-Sparks Indian Colony donates $500,000 to Washoe school district
This story was first published in the April 2017 edition of First Nation’s Focus.
RENO, , Nev. — Citing the importance of partnerships, the chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony spoke to tribal dignitaries, Washoe County School District officials and other members of the community during a press conference to present a $500,000 check to the school district.
“We have partnerships with the surrounding community because we’re part of the community here,“ RSIC Chairman Arlan Melendez said during the presentation at the Reno Sparks Tribal Health Center in Reno.
“And that’s what were doing here today, we’re actually fulfilling our promise that we made back then in 2005, with revenue sharing with Washoe County School District.”
In 2005, the Nevada Legislature unanimously passed Assembly Bill 299, in which the RSIC proposed to share sales tax revenue from its retail projects to benefit the Washoe County School District.
The check presentation was part of a 15-year project between Washoe County, the State of Nevada and the RSIC involving land purchases by the RSIC, land swaps with the State of Nevada, plus environmental and flood control projects with the other jurisdictions.
Using tribal tax revenues and a 1995 tribal municipal bond, the Colony purchased multiple properties which are now leased to Wal-Mart for its East 2nd Street store, several auto dealerships on South Virginia Street, and other ventures.
Besides diversifying the Colony’s tax base from sole reliance on tobacco sales, the RSIC retail operations funded the construction of the $20 million health center where the check passing ceremony took place.
The check to the district is just the beginning of regular revenue sharing payments.
“It’s not new for us to recognize how important partnerships are, and it’s no more important than our children,” Melendez said.
“The country today, where you see there’s a lot of divisiveness when you look around, what we’re doing here is building inclusiveness, building partnerships that recognize that we’re in this together. And we’re going to continue to really strive to make our community a better place to live, to have a better quality of life and really put our children at the forefront of everything.”
Angela Taylor, Ph.D., president of the WCSD Board of Trustees, along with other members of the board, were on hand to accept the check.
“Finding the right place for this money will be no problem,” Taylor said.
AB264 was just one of eight Tribal-related bills that have either been signed into law this session, or were adopted by the Legislature and await Sisolak’s approval, highlighting one of the most successful legislative sessions in the history of Nevada in terms of Native American affairs.