Members of the Salamanca Coalition of United Taxpayers are organizing a Thursday bus trip to Buffalo when the issue of jurisdiction on the Seneca Indian Reservation will be argued in U.S. District Court.
Jennifer A. Coleman, the attorney for the coalition, whose members oppose a negotiated lease renewal offer, has filed briefs with Judge Richard J. Arcara.
On Tuesday, SCOUT President Joseph Fluent organized teams in the city to gather signers for petitions supporting SCOUT's request for an injunction to stop a city negotiating group. He said more than 1,000 signatures were gathered and sent to Arcara as part of the briefs.
The Salamanca Indian Lease Authority should no longer be operating or meeting and spending city money, SCOUT maintains, because negotiations with the Senecas, who hold title to most of the parcels in the city, are over.
Representatives from the tribe and city negotiated for 30 months before announcing a renewal agreement for 3,300 leases that expire Feb. 19 after 99 years.
SCOUT was formed after some taxpayers expressed dissatisfaction with 80-year renewal offers, insisting they were entitled to 99-year renewals under federal legislation of 1875 and 1899. That claim is the basis of SCOUT's lawsuit.
The issue is now in federal court where 200 SCOUT members turned out Dec. 7 as lawsuits against the Senecas, Lease Authority, City of Salamanca and certain negotiators and officials were filed.
Fluent said people will again be offered a chance to pay $10 to ride a bus to Buffalo to hear the arguments next week. He said SCOUT now has 568 members who hold more than 1,000 leases.
In a related activity, SCOUT members and Fluent went to a City Council meeting this week and asked permission to use city voting machines. Fluent said SCOUT wants the public's opinion on acceptance of the lease offer and several related matters.
Fluent said the city has 4,867 adults who should decide the issues.
"It's the only fair way to let the mayor and City Council know how people feel. Either they (officials) aren't interested or they aren't listening." Residents opposing the lease have been attending Council meetings since spring asking for a public vote on the lease offer, but the Council has not responded.
SCOUT's directors were to meet today with Rep. Amory Houghton Jr., R-Corning, to discuss lease matters. Houghton was instrumental in gaining passage of federal legislation that will give the Senecas $35 million in 1992, along with $25 million from the state, which was part of the negotiated settlement for lease renewals.