Editorial: A lot at stake in Chehalis Tribe taxation dispute
""We won." With those two simple words, Thurston County Assessor Patricia Costello summed up a three-year battle to force Great Wolf Lodge to pay property taxes on its hotel/water park resort.

With her “we won” statement, Costello was referring to the 15-page decision by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle who recently said that the destination resort in southern Thurston County is taxable. Had the county lost, it would have shifted Great Wolf’s annual tax bill of about $1 million to other county taxpayers.

It’s a huge decision.

But this issue is far from settled. Costello is convinced that the Chehalis Indian Tribe will appeal Judge Settle’s decision. We agree. This is one of those cases that should be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court because of its far-reaching, national implications. There’s a lot riding on the final outcome.

Throughout the country, Indian tribes are entering into contracts with private corporations for operations on tribal lands. The question is whether those operations that are part tribal and part private are taxable. Judge Settle concluded that the state’s interest in taxing the improvements at Great Wolf outweighs the federal and tribal interest in pre-empting such taxation in Indian Country."

Get the Story:
Editorial; Great Wolf Lodge case needs federal resolution (The Olympian 4/12)

Court Decision:
Chehalis Tribe v. Thurston County (April 2, 2010)

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