Greetings Leech Lake Band members! Autumn is definitely upon us and it will not be long until winter is in full swing. I hope everyone is taking the time to prepare for the upcoming seasonal changes! It is my honor to present this report for October 2023 to you, including a recap of our finances for the entire FY 23 year (July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023).
Government FY 24 Quarter 1 Report
For the 12 months ending June 30, 2023, the total revenue for the General Fund was $30,097,610, reflecting an increase of $2,998,281 over the same period last year, for a year over year increase of 11.1%. Total General Fund expenditures for the year ending June 30, 2023 were $30,854,803, reflecting a $3,144,073 increase over the same period last year, for a year over year increase in General Fund expenditures of 11.3%.
For the 12 months ending June 30, 2023, the total revenue for the Special Revenue Fund was $87,427,444, reflecting a increase of $2,172,585 over the same period last year, for a year over year increase of 2.5%. Total Special Revenue Fund expenditures for the year ending June 30, 2023 were $90,760,769, reflecting an increase of $1,202,966 over the same period last year, for a year over year increase in Special Revenue expenditures of 1.3%.
For the 12 months ending June 30, 2023, the total revenue for the Indirect Cost Pool was $14,268,196, reflecting an increase of $951,950, for a year over year increase of 7.1% for the same period last year. Total Indirect Cost Pool expenditures for the same period were $14,249,802, reflecting an increase of $1,185,705 over the same period last year, for a year over year increase of 9.1% in Indirect Cost Pool expenditures.
As I have previously reported, work continues on streamlining our billing procedures so we can increase reimbursements to the Band. Work also continues on revising the Budget Ordinance for more clarity and increased Band member participation. And we continue to prioritize the completion of our external annual audits so we can stay in compliance with our own laws and other funding sources.
Enterprise FY 24 Quarter 1 Report
On our enterprise side, for the twelve months ending June 30, 2023, which covers the entire fiscal year, Total Casino, Small Business and Gaming Administration revenue increased by 1.19% over last year. The Total Cost of Goods increased by 8.95% over last year. Total Payroll Expense decreased by 14.33% over last year. Total Operating Expenses increased by 36.36% over last year. The total Net Profit from Casino, Small Business and Gaming Administration for Fiscal Year 2023 decreased by 74.00% over Fiscal Year 2022. Importantly, as I have reported multiple times over the last year, we always recognized that 2023, the year of correction, would reflect deflated profitability from the banner gaming income year of 2022.
While these numbers are alarming from a year-over-year standpoint alone, it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture. First, 2022 was a banner year for gaming revenue. Costs were very low, employment and payroll were down, and revenue was record setting. Since that time, more people have come back to work, costs have increased dramatically as a result of inflation, and gaming revenue (at our casino properties alone) has been stagnant or slightly decreasing since 2022.
When all factors are taken into consideration, our enterprises are in a solid position from both a financial perspective and a market perspective. We are in line with profitability considering business acquisitions (and the ancillary rise in both net revenue and overhead expenses), business expansion (and additional debt service), and overall market conditions. We continue to closely monitor our enterprise financial performance to ensure we are maximizing profitability.
Minnesota Indian Gaming Association Update
On October 2, 2023, I attended the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association meeting. At this meeting, tribal leaders heard an update on sports betting and iGaming from a Michigan tribal leader. Discussion was held regarding our priorities as Minnesota tribes and the political realities we face in the legislature this upcoming session. We continue to formulate strategies and ideas that will keep Leech Lake well-positioned as we consider all opportunities for the Band going forward.
St. Regis Superfund and EPA Update
On October 18, 2023, Leech Lake leadership and staff met with leadership from the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters as well as EPA Region 5 leadership to discuss progress on remediation of the St. Regis Superfund Site in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Following up on the government-to-government consultation that was held in August 2023, Leech Lake pushed the EPA to consider additional remediation alternatives that are more aligned with tribal clean up standards and include removing contaminated soil from the site all together. The meetings with EPA were productive and we are hoping for positive outcomes in the upcoming remedial design for cleanup of Operable Units 1 and 2 of the site.
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Update
On October 25, 2023 the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe held a Tribal Executive Committee meeting in Mahnomen, Minnesota. At the meeting, an update was provided regarding the proposed Secretarial Election to amend Article II of the Revised Constitution and Bylaws of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (enrollment). In July, the TEC voted to re-initiate the secretarial election process under MCT Resolution 34-15, which would accept all Ojibwe/Chippewa/Anishinabe blood into the ¼ blood quantum requirement. MCT legal and staff have been working with the Department of Interior and BIA since August, but have ran into many roadblocks in getting the secretarial election scheduled. Leaders from the TEC will meet with BIA regional and headquarters staff to resolve these issues and get the secretarial election scheduled.
In the meantime, it is important that we keep all of our members informed and updated, as well as provide education so we can have a high voter turnout in this election, whenever it is finally scheduled. Please watch for updates from LLBO and from your LIC regarding educational opportunities and outreach sessions.
MN Department of Revenue Update
On October 25, 2023, Leech Lake leaders and staff met with Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Paul Marquart and his staff to discuss a number of issues including the Tax Agreement between LLBO and the State, upcoming funding opportunities including Aid to Tribal Governments and housing assistance, and educational opportunities for Band members around new state tax initiatives including the Child Tax Credit. The Department of Revenue will have an informational booth at the upcoming LLBO Quarterly Meeting in January 2024. We will also begin renegotiations for a new Tax Agreement in the spring of 2024. I will continue to keep Band members informed as we move forward.
This concludes my report for October 2023. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. As always, it is my privilege and honor to serve you all! Chi-miigwech!
Leonard “Lenny” Fineday