Shawnee mayor says tribe-owned grocery store has cost city $4 million

The mayor of Shawnee, Oklahoma, claims a massive grocery store owned by a powerful Indian tribe has served to deprive his city of roughly $4 million in sales taxes since it opened in 2001.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: March 20, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: March 19, 2014

Mayor Wes Mainord says Shawnee has lost out on $4 million because a massive grocery store run by an American Indian tribe has failed to send the city any sales tax money.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Chairman John Barrett says his tribe doesn’t need to pay anything to the city, and Shawnee has no power to force payment.

Their competing and sometimes heated comments are included in letters between the tribe and the city, and while both sides seem far apart, they are to meet Monday.

“The purpose of the meeting is to discuss whether the city and the tribal nations can agree to terms on which the tribal nations will collect and pay city sales taxes for sales to non-members at tribal enterprises owed under the decisions of the United States Supreme Court,” Mainord said in a letter to Barrett on Monday.

“After the Citizen Potawatomi Nation opened its FireLake grocery in 2001, the city’s sales tax revenues attributable to groceries declined by over $300,000 by the third year of operation.

“Even if we assumed that there had been no increase in sales due to growth and inflation, that indicates a loss to the city of approximately $4,000,000 since FireLake grocery opened.”

The Oklahoman attempted to contact Mainord on Wednesday. He refused to comment.

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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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