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SENECAS AIM TO END ABUSE OF LAND LEASES

The Seneca Nation of Indians stands ready to begin lease default proceedings against those lessees who have been using a Seneca name on their property deeds to avoid paying land leases and taxes.

Efforts by the tribe to regain properties in default of correct deeds got backing Wednesday as the City Council adopted a resolution similar to one approved earlier this month by the Senecas' Tribal Council.

In a motion sponsored by Seneca Councillors Michael John and Rovena Abrams, the Senecas said the benefit allowing enrolled Senecas to hold rent-free leases is being abused as some Senecas have allowed non-Indians to add their names to deeds to enjoy rent-free status. As a result, land lease payments to the tribe have steadily decreased since 1991.

Parcels in the City of Salamanca and Congressional Villages of Great Valley, Carrollton and Vandalia must be listed solely in the name of an enrolled Seneca to benefit from immunity from land leases and taxes, the tribe said.

It is not yet known how many parcels on the Allegany Reservation will be affected. Senecas are readying letters to those in default, giving them 90 days to correct deeds in the name of a Seneca only.

Some non-Seneca lessees have been able to avoid paying taxes since leases were issued in 1991 by adding the name of an enrolled Seneca to their deeds.

Mayor Stephen Montgomery said the city could collect up to $30,000 in additional taxes if the situation is resolved.

Senecas have published legal notices that those who fail to comply will face lease default proceedings, which could mean their properties will revert to the tribe.

A precedent was set in recent years under the new 40-year leases where the Senecas took over properties of non-Senecas who defaulted on leases.

In other business Wednesday, the Council approved cutting a curb at 145 Center St. where Tracy Brown intends to develop a bed-and-breakfast. The Council also refunded $553 to Mark and Susan Dodds, who changed their minds about purchasing 13 parcels from the city.

By a 4-1 vote, the Council transferred money for development of a playground in Triangle Park to other parks. Alderman Gary Wind voted against the change.

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