June 28, 2017 – Washington, Co. – West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow will be testifying in Madison on Thursday in an effort to encourage lawmakers to close a loophole in a law that allows viable big box stores to contest their property assessments and ask their store be charged the same rate as a store that is closed.
Within a week of opening its doors in West Bend the new Meijer grocery fought its assessment of $20 million. They claim they should only be assessed at $9 million.
Meijer paid $6 million for the land and then constructed a 200,000 square foot building.
The city assessor’s office in West Bend confirmed Meijer representatives played the dark store card.
Sadownikow said those numbers don’t pass the smell test.
“I am confident when Meijer runs a financial analysis they list their West Bend property as an asset worth far more than the $9 million they claim is the value,” he said.
“I am certain WalMart, as a publically traded company, lists the value of their properties much differently than the amount they would like to be assessed. The issue is very simple, a loophole was discovered by a group of intelligent attorneys and accountants. Our community and county are simply calling on the Wisconsin Legislature to close the loophole.”
Sadownikow said small business, manufacturing, agriculture and residential properties will be forced to bear the burden of governmental operational costs if big box stores are allowed to continue to exploit this flaw in assessment law.
Other stores across the state fighting assessment include Walgreens, Walmart, Menards and Shopko.
So far the courts have ruled in favor of the stores which then pay less property taxes.
In the end the communities that shop at the stores are the ones hit the hardest.
In West Bend the School District had to give back $80,000 after the courts ruled in favor of two Walgreens stores that fought to have its assessment lowered to less than $5 million even though the stores sold for a combined $14 million.
Washington County Administrator Josh Schoemann said, “Irony of ironies, come to our ribbon cutting but by the way we’re going to drop out property tax claim on you.”
“You know, God bless America. They found a loophole and they’re playing the loophole and hopefully Senator Duey Stroebel and Rep. Dan Knodl can get legislation through to change it.”
Schoemann said he felt bad for the city. “They’re doing their job setting assessments and Meijer is gaming the system,” he said.
On a side note: During its grand opening in West Bend the representative from Meijer passed a check for $20,000 to the West Bend Parks Department. Sadownikow said they received the check from Meijer last week and have deposited it. “We will not, however, invest it until the challenges are settled,” he said.