Secretary-Treasurer Gives Budget Report at Membership Meeting
By Joe Morey
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman gave a budget report to the tribal members at the General Membership Meeting held on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Sevenwinds Casino.
“We are honored and humbled to represent you,” Shuman began. “In our quest for full transparency to you all, I present this financial report to show our tribal budget for 2022 and with it, our goals and opportunities for improvement.”
Shuman explained the Tribe operates with over 200 grants in addition to the revenue streams from tribal enterprises and Enbridge payments.
Shuman acknowledged the casino and how much they increased revenue since reopening after the Covid shutdown. He said they shot up 300% in 2021 and this year, they still will do more than double their annual contribution to the tribal general fund than in the years prior to Covid.
“We’re really proud of the casino and their 203 employees, of which 70% are tribal members,” Shuman noted.
The second largest revenue source remains LCO Financial Services. He said they have experienced a lot of growth.
“They have a very good team over there with 65 tribal member employees and they are well-paid,” Shuman noted. “The median income for Sawyer County is 23,000 and they are well over that.”
Shuman said LCO Financial Services is no longer working with a service provider, and that their entire operation is 100% internally managed.
“It’s an amazing business with a great leadership team,” Shuman said. Their revenue is projected to increase year after year.
Shuman also reminded Tribal Members they still have over $2 million coming in annually from the Enbridge deal and that will continue for many more years.
“All these revenues allow us to serve the Tribal Membership needs,” Shuman stated. “We have a very large donation line item in the tribal budget, whether it be for hardships or to help our people move forward and it’s because of these very lucrative revenue streams. We have a lot of money put away in our rainy day funds.”
Shuman said the Tribe also has $40,000 to $50,000 monthly coming in from the retail enterprises which include the Country Store, both gas stations and the Landing Resort. He also commented that the Big Fish Golf Course annual contribution increased from $70,000 in 2020 to $160,000 for 2021.
Shuman said tribal leadership needs to protect the rainy day funds for member needs that arise that aren’t written into the budget.
He shared how Enbridge funds have been used, citing youth trips, the new ball fields, which includes the most recent field which was built this summer in New Post, playgrounds, youth wellness and hunting camps, LCO School camera and security upgrades, youth hockey program in Hayward just to name a few.
Shuman said the Tribe had a large surplus for 2021 and is projected for the same in 2022.
“I’ve suggested that leadership and our Accounting Department need to have monthly financial meetings on our budget so we can spot trends and amend our budget as needed,” Shuman explained. “If we have a large surplus like we did in 2021, we need to account for it and identify it and save that money for future needs or services that come up that are unbudgeted. We have businesses that bring in way more money than is expected and with that, we don’t always have to use Enbridge funds.”
In conclusion, Shuman said, “We are trying to help everyone’s needs, but there needs to be internal controls to insure an equal and fair distribution for all members.”