Community Leaders Against The Dark Stores Legislation
LANSING - At this years Michigan Municipal League's Conference, community leaders joined together to express their concerns against the Dark Store Legislation.
The legislation has allowed large retailers, popularly known as “Big Box” stores, to change the market value of their property.
Prior to the Dark Store theory, Michigan Big Box stores were assessed an average of $55 per square foot.
According to a recent study done by the Michigan Municipal League, in Michigan, Lowes stores are assessed at $22.10 per square foot; however, North Carolina, the same stores are valued at $79.08 per square foot.
In Michigan, Menards and Target are valued at $24.97 per square foot; however, the same stores are valued at $61.23 per square foot in Wisconsin.
Some community leaders feel as though the lower tax assessment is unfair.
"Communities ended up owing money to the store owners for back taxes and former property values," said Ben Motil, Meridian Township's Associate Planner and Economic Development Coordinator.
"Its really a shift in tax burden from business to residents," said Julie Brixie, Meridian Township Treasurer. "Our Downtown Development Authority was nearly bankrupted by the Meijer Corporation's tax tribunal and had to pay an $85,000 refund to Meijer. We've seen just in Meridian Township over $2 million in lost revenue since 2012."
Other states have denied legislation like this.
"When other states have passed legislation curbing this at the drop of a hat, they got it right, where Michigan is getting it wrong," said State Rep. John Kivela.
Small local businesses do not benefit from this lower tax assessment.
"Right now we've got a Costco coming in talking about the investment they're going to make in the community," said Frank Walsh, Meridian Township Manager. "That's all fine and good, the jobs are great but what's going to be returned to us to be able to pay for the resources needed to create the development."
"We're not asking them to pay more than their fair share. We're just asking them to pay their fair share so we can handle the responsibilities that we have as the local government," Walsh said.
These community leaders urged Michigan residents to contact their state representative and express their concerns about the Dark Store theory.