AUTO uncovers state plan to extend 28 cent tax payment to new tribal mobile fueling business
Apparently not satisfied with the approximately $30 million in payments from the state for its retail stations, certain Native American Tribes with compacts in WA are going after the mobile or “wet” fueling commercial business. To the near disbelief of many in the industry, the state of Washington appears to have agreed to help by sending them another round of 28 cents per gallon payments out of state coffers. (Read about mobile fueling in WA).
Puyallup’s cut a deal with DOL
Here’s how the scheme apparently played out. The Puyallup tribal owned subsidiary Marine View Ventures that runs its four retail stations approaches the Department of Licensing (DOL) in late 2009. Tribal attorney Kelly Croman explains they want to enter the mobile fueling business and request that the state to amend its motor fuel compact with the tribe to give them 28 cents per gallon out of the state treasury for every gallon they sell.
On February 2, 2010, Croman scolds DOL staff in an email for not responding in what she considers a timely fashion. She explains that this “tax certainty” is a key to the tribes proceeding. It’s clear, they want the 28 cents per gallon which will allow them to undercut other mobile fuel suppliers.
Incredulously, DOL’s Karla manager responds with:
- An apology for not moving faster;
- Acknowledgement that DOL agrees that they are going to get the 28 cents through an amendment to the existing compacts for the retail service stations;
- An assurance that they are keeping the Governor’s office informed on the progress;
- A draft for an amendment which is the starting point for reaching agreement on language acceptable to the tribe (Read the email string between DOL staff and tribal attorney).
When AUTO Exec Tim Hamilton reviewed the email string uncovered in a Freedom Of Information Act request, he immediately called DOL. Staff confirmed that the Department was moving ahead and all that was basically left in the process was fine tuning of the amendment. Tens of millions about to be handed out without a published notice, hearing, and all behind closed doors out of sight of the public. Not exactly our democracy’s finest moment.