Agreement Grants Tulalip Tribes Cut of State’s Sales Tax From Quil Ceda Village

Quil Ceda Village was conceived and built for business. The 2,200-acre municipality houses not only Tulalip Resort Casino (pictured), but a premium outlet mall; several anchor stores, including Cabela’s, Home Depot and Walmart; a retail center; an amphitheater; and several eateries.

When the Tulalip Tribes established its retail center Quil Ceda Village in 2001, the intent was to benefit from some of the sales tax dollars. Yet for nearly 20 years, Tribal leaders have watched millions flow to the State of Washington. 

That’s about to change. The Tribes, Washington State and Snohomish County have entered an agreement that could end a five-year lawsuit over who should rightfully collect sales tax at Quil Ceda Village. In 2015, the Tulalip Tribes filed the federal lawsuit seeking a percentage of the more than $40 million in taxes that the state and county receive each year. 

The memorandum of understanding signed by the Tribes, the state and the county has been months in the making. It grants the Tribes’ request to receive a portion of Washington State’s sales tax collections, starting this budget cycle. The sum of sales tax collections for the Tribes could grow to an estimated $30.2 million by 2025. Snohomish County’s sales tax allotment would remain the same. 

Quil Ceda Village has won acclaim nationwide as a key strategy to building Tribal self-reliance, prosperity and communities.

In the long run, that estimated $30.2 million would help offset the $35 million the Tribes will spend to design and build a 48-bed civil commitment center in the county.

Before the agreement goes into effect, the state Legislature must grant Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee authority to negotiate sales tax sharing compacts with federally recognized Tribes, the Associated Press reported. State House and Senate hearings are slated to begin today on bills permitting the governor to act.

The Consolidated Borough of Quil Ceda Village, located on the I-5 corridor just north of Seattle, Washington, has been a huge success for the 4,900-member Tribe. Originally envisioned as an economic engine to supplement its casino, Tribal leadership went a step further, taking advantage of existing federal rules and legislation to establish Quil Ceda in 2001 as a municipality under the Indian Tribal Government Tax Status Act of 1982. In fact, Quil Ceda is the first-ever such political subdivision of a Tribal government. The only other such “federal city” is Washington D.C., Quil Ceda Village General Manager Martin Napeahi told Native Business. 

Quil Ceda functions like any other municipality. Its governing structure is a village council that, just like any other city or town council, enacts local laws and ordinances, develops village policies and sets annual village budgets. The council appoints the general manager, who functions like a city manager. And, just like any other city, the village government is responsible for building and maintaining infrastructure, parks, police and fire departments, and emergency services.  

The village was conceived and built for business. The 2,200-acre municipality houses not only Tulalip’s resort/casino and bingo hall, but a premium outlet mall; several anchor stores, including Cabela’s, Home Depot and Walmart; a retail center; an amphitheater; and several eateries. Quil Ceda Village also features the Tribally owned cannabis dispensary, Remedy Tulalip.

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