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      31 / 19

      Controversy over a possible gas station

      More than 60 people showed up to the Marquette Township meeting to hear about a new gas station coming to US-41. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community plans to operate the station but is exempt from paying state sales tax.

      The president of the Upper Peninsula Petroleum Association, Brooke Ferns, says by not paying sales tax, gas prices would be cheaper which will hurt competing gas stations and convenience stores, potentially driving them out of business.

      She says that could result in a decline in education funding.

      "Last year in Marquette County, fuel retailers submitted over $6.7 million to the State of Michigan in sales taxes. Of that money, at least $4.9 million went to fund Marquette Area Public Schools, so we all stand a lot to lose here," said Ferns.

      The KBIC has purchased the property of what used to be Los Tres Amigos restaurant with hopes of cheaper gas prices for Marquette county residents.

      Members of the UPPA are also concerned that a decline in sales tax revenue could end up hurting Marquette county.

      Greg Nominelli is in economic development for the KBIC and says the profits do get funneled back into the community.

      "The KBIC uses the revenue for its gas station for its people to provide services, and those services are provided primarily in Marquette County and Baraga County. So the money does stay locally," said Nominelli.

      Tribal councilmen say they are willing to work with Marquette Township to get the project underway. KBIC plans to submit an application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to have the site become trust land.

      The bureau will have 30 days to make a decision.