BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Seneca Indian Nation and New York state resolved a dispute Monday that has held up much-needed repairs to a portion of highway running through the tribe’s western New York territory.
A joint statement said the two sides have agreed to a framework to allow work to start on the Southern Tier Expressway, Interstate 86, in Cattaraugus County, as well as other road projects on Seneca land.
Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration have been at odds over fees sought by the Senecas to monitor the projects.
Last week, the feud escalated when state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald threatened to reallocate $47 million to other projects in the absence of a quick resolution.
Under Monday’s agreement, the Senecas will receive a 3 percent administrative fee on the $28.5 million Southern Tier Expressway repaving project. The nation had sought 3.5 percent, a fee amount it said had been built in to contracts involving work on nation territory since 1993 under the nation’s Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) rules.
Tribal leaders said they were told by state officials in May that the state would not apply TERO rules to the Southern Tier Expressway project or any others going forward. McDonald said last week the department was willing to pay the fees, but not increased fees sought by the Senecas.
Monday’s one-paragraph statement said the agreement had been approved by the Seneca Tribal Council and that "the contractor will deploy to the site as soon as feasible."