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Shawnee city officials threaten to sue Indian tribes over sales tax

City officials in Shawnee are threatening to sue at least four Indian tribes based in Pottawatomie County over sales tax, a letter from the city's mayor states.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: February 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: February 5, 2014

City officials are threatening to sue at least four Indian tribes based in Pottawatomie County over the collection of sales tax, a letter from the city's mayor reveals.

The letter, addressed to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and the Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, was signed by Shawnee Mayor Wesley Mainord on Monday.

“The City of Shawnee has seen its sales tax revenues decrease significantly in recent years,” Mainord wrote.

“During which time there has been an increase in tribal enterprises selling commercial goods and services within the Shawnee city limits.”

City Manager Brian McDougal said there is no exact figure to illustrate the economic loss Shawnee has suffered over the past decade or so.

“They've got a large grocery store and lots of retail enterprises that have popped up around the area,” McDougal said. “We're not seeing any sales tax from any of those businesses. Our city is struggling to pay for basic services.”

“I've only been here five years ... this has been going on since I got here.”

McDougal said the loss of sales tax revenue is especially hard for Shawnee to cope with due to the limited funding mechanisms available.

“In some cities, like Oklahoma City and others, they have other sources of revenue ... like property tax,” he said. “We don't have any of that.”

According to McDougal, Shawnee should be getting 3 percent of all tax money taken in through purchases made by nontribal members. One percent is supposed to go to Pottawatomie County while the remaining 4.5 percent is set for the state of Oklahoma's coffers.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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