The owners of a Myton cafe and convenience store told Duchesne County commissioners they will pay their property taxes under protest pending a decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the Indian jurisdiction issue.
Wayne and Jolene Perank, owners of J&W General Store and Cafe, will clear up their five-year-old property tax bill in order to free the title to the land so it can be purchased by the Ute Indian Tribe.The tribe plans to use the parcel, located on U.S. 40 in downtown Myton, in their economic development plans. The tribe will place the property in trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs once all necessary transactions are completed, according to a letter to county commissioners from Max Adams, Ute Tribe community and economic development director.
Once the highway frontage property is placed in trust status it cannot be taxed by Myton city or the county and will in fact become a new jurisdiction within Myton because the tribe is a sovereign nation.
Just prior to the 1996 tax sale the Peranks went to the County Commission to protest their property tax. Perank contends that because the business is located on a 1905 Indian allotment and because he is a member of the Ute Tribe the county lacks jurisdiction and authority to assess both property taxes and personal taxes.
At that time County Attorney Herb Gillespie said that while Perank is most likely exempt from personal taxes attached to the store, a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Yakima County vs. Yakima Indian Nation indicates he is responsible for paying his property tax bill to the county, regardless of the allotment status.
The land had been held since 1910 by non-Indians until it was purchased by Perank six years ago.
The county pulled the business from last year's tax sale pending a ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in the jurisdiction case Utah vs. Ute Indian Tribe, but six months after the case was argued no ruling has been issued.