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Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico

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Falling prices at the Phillips 66 station here ignited complaints of unfair competition from off-reservation competitors. Stuart Stein of Los Alamos and other area station managers have lowered their prices to keep up with the pueblo. "It's not good business to charge more. We want to keep the customer happy." As Stein sees it, San Ildefonso does not have to pay the 18-cent fuel tax and can afford to charge less and still turn a profit. Not so, say pueblo leaders. Administrator Terry Aguilar said the wholesale price of gasoline is low enough that his tribe, and presumably other stations, can pass taxes to the consumer and still make a healthy profit. Under state tax law, tribes do not have a price advantage over nontribal gasoline wholesalers. The pueblo charges its own 17-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax, Aguilar said. State records show it also pays the state's penny-per-gallon petroleum loading fee. Its two tribal stations charge the same taxes as everyone else, but pay it to different governments. The pueblo uses the money to fund sewer, water and road projects. Aguilar said the tribe opened the stations to serve the pueblo, and that cheap gasoline is part of the mission. "It's for the community."

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