Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Chairman Alonzo Coby signed a fuel tax agreement this morning, the second Indian nation in Idaho to reach such an agreement before a Dec. 1 deadline set last year by state lawmakers. Like the earlier agreement between the state and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the pact requires the tribes to charge their own 25-cent-per-gallon fuel tax on reservation gas sales, and to raise their tax if the state raises its gas tax, so that the two stay even. The Sho-Bans, like the Coeur d’Alenes, also committed to spend their fuel tax revenues on transportation needs on their reservation. Otter said in a statement, “I’m grateful to Shoshone-Bannock leaders for the spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility they have brought to this process. The savings we realize by keeping this out of court are substantial. But more importantly, this agreement reflects the positive and constructive understanding that my administration and tribal representatives have built. We’re moving forward together as partners for all Idahoans.”
The Sho-Ban agreement includes a clause about taxes on diesel for interstate trucks, which wasn’t an issue for the Coeur d’Alenes. Two major freeways, I-86 and I-15, run through the Sho-Bans’ Fort Hall Reservation. The agreement calls for the state to collect and keep the state tax on 85 percent of the diesel fuel delivered to tribal retailers there, which is expected to bring the state $850,000 to $1 million a year. The state will spend a third of that money for required rebates to interstate truckers who purchase their fuel in Idaho but don’t burn it here.
Otter said talks are going well with the Nez Perce Tribe, the third Idaho tribe that operates gas stations, and he expects to reach agreement with them well before the deadline. At the Idaho Indian Affairs Council meeting earlier this week, representatives of the Kootenai Tribe said they, too, plan to seek an agreement, just in case they move into fuel sales in the future. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes said they won’t; they already have a fuel tax agreement with the state of Nevada, where they have their fuel business on their two-state reservation.