LONGVIEW — The Cowlitz Indian Tribe donated about $300,000 more than its estimated share of 2021 property taxes to Cowlitz and Clark county organizations this year.
The tribe does not pay property taxes on its 156-acre reservation, home to the ilani casino, because of its designation as a federally recognized tribe. Recognized tribes can receive funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal benefits, while still being self-governed. The Cowlitz Tribe became federally recognized in 2000.
Without the exempt status, the tribal government calculated it would owe about $200,000 based on 2020 property assessments.
Property taxes fund local schools, emergency services, road construction and more.
“The tribe is committed to give back more to the community than we take,” Cowlitz Tribal Chairman Philip Harju said.
The tribe donated more than $500,000 in the first half of 2021.
Harju said the need is greater today because of the pandemic.
“The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is proud to offer financial support to our neighboring communities during these particularly demanding times,” he said.
Fire engine also to be donated
The tribe donated $346,400 to Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue to cover services for the tribe. The donation is in addition to a fire engine the tribe plans to purchase through a federal grant for $650,000. The engine will be donated to the department to use until it’s decommissioned, according to Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue Chief John Nohr.
The tribe donated $106,000 to the Ridgefield School District, $32,000 to other Clark County schools, $43,000 to the Clark County road fund and $11,000 to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.
The tribe also donated $75,000 to help a nonprofit called Truly Motivated Transitional Living to add housing. The organization provides sober living housing in the Puget Sound area.