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Committee to vote on property tax refund for Menards

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Tonight, a La Crosse city council committee considers paying up, under the latest settlement with a big box store over assessments.

The council’s finance committee will vote on whether to refund Menards $35,000 in property taxes.

It’s just the latest big box retailer to successfully sue the city over assessments under a quirk in state law known as the “dark store loophole.”

“This has just become a concerted effort to shift the tax burden from large retail to the homeowners in the city,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.

The city has paid an estimated $400,000 in refunds and legal fees over just the last couple of years, after lawsuits from retailers under the loophole.

Also successful has been Walgreens, Sears, Kmart and Macy’s with more, likely, on the way, according to Kabat.

“It’s become, unfortunately, commonplace,” Kabat said, adding it’s something towns and cities are pushing back on. “It is a larger issue that the state is grappling with and we’ve been part of that lobbying effort to get a solution at the state level because that’s really where it has to come from.”

La Crosse is among the cities working on state legislators to change state law to stop the property tax refunds, which eventually just get paid for by other property owners.

The city council committee meets at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ROBERT A MELBO

    November 1, 2018 at 11:05 am

    The way I understand it, a store pays $XXX in taxes according to it’s assessment. Okay! I don’t know how the assessments are made. But it seems to me that an operating store should pay more tax than a store that has been closed. Shouldn’t the assessment/taxes due be based upon a combination of the value of the real estate plus a percentage of it’s gross sales? That seems fair to me.

    I am not a business owner, but I am a residential property owner in La Crosse. I don’t want my taxes to increase anymore than my neighbor. But to “shaft” others (“dark stores”) is not proper.

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