It is like a rolling billboard for the state of Kansas.
The big semitrailer that hauls shoulder pads, helmets and other gear for the Kansas University football team to road games is appropriately ablaze in Sunflower State pride. Nearly everywhere you look, ‘Kansas’ is plastered somewhere on the trailer.
Well, almost everywhere. It isn’t on the license plate.
A spokesman with the Kansas University Athletics Department confirmed the trailer for “several” years has sported a license plate from Maine.
Jim Marchiony, an associate athletic director for KU, said the trailer is privately owned and the owner donates the use of the trailer and a driver to the university’s athletic department.
“It is really not our call where it is registered,” Marchiony said.
But, as fate would have it, the vehicle soon will have a Kansas license plate on it. Marchiony said his understanding, from the owner, is the Maine license plate fell off somewhere along the way to the Northern Illinois game two weeks ago.
“He has said now would be as good a time as any to register it in the state of Kansas,” Marchiony said.
Marchiony said the process of getting a new tag for the vehicle was under way. Marchiony declined to release the name of the trailer’s owner, saying the donor had expressed a desire to remain anonymous.
Marchiony said the athletic department is pleased enough that the license plate is being changed, but he said the department didn’t think the out-of-state plate was a problem.
“It doesn’t concern us in the least, as long as it is all done properly,” Marchiony said.
Marchiony said the owner assured him that he had solid legal standing to have the trailer registered in Maine instead of Kansas.
Spokeswomen with both the Douglas County Treasurer’s office and the Douglas County Appraiser’s office said they didn’t have enough information about the specifics of the case to say with certainty whether Kansas law would require the trailer to be registered in Kansas.
But both said generally a trailer that is located in Kansas on Jan. 1 of a year, or otherwise is considered to be based in Kansas, would be expected to have a Kansas license plate. If the owner of the trailer had a business interest in Maine, for example, that generally wouldn’t be enough by itself to qualify the trailer for an out-of-state registration.
Property taxes due on the trailer likely are among the biggest issues related to where the trailer is registered. A license tag for a semitrailer in Kansas costs less than $50. But personal property taxes on a trailer can be significant, depending on the age and value of a trailer, said Karla Grosdidier, a spokeswoman with the Douglas County Appraiser’s office.
“Usually how we find out about trailers to tax is through a license tag,” Grosdidier said.
Marchiony said his understanding is that Maine doesn’t charge personal property tax on semitrailers that are used for interstate commerce.
Marchiony said he was not aware of the trailer ever being in Maine. He said the trailer is mainly kept near Memorial Stadium when it is not hauling gear to an away football game.
The Journal-World learned of the Maine license plate after a jogger in the area reported seeing it. The jogger declined to be interviewed for the story.
Marchiony said he doesn’t think the sight of an out-of-state tag on a trailer that represents Kansas University should cause any type of embarrassment or perception problem for the state.
“It is much ado about nothing,” Marchiony said. “No one has mentioned it to us, until right now.”