The exterior of Shopko is seen Monday morning in West
Bend. The West Bend Common Council voted to approve a
resolution supporting legislation to combat “dark store”
John Ehlke/Daily News
Members of the West Bend Common Council are closely
observing two legislative proposals, mindful their fate
will have significant consequences for area residents.
Aldermen voted to approve a resolution during the June
19 meeting to support two state senate bills designed to
limit the methods corporate representatives use to
reduce the property taxes they pay to municipalities.
will just say I am going to vote yes to this, but I do
have concerns in my understanding of it with the senate
bills and these being two separate issues they are
lumping together,” Alderman Adam Williquette said.
According to the resolution, one of the bills, SB 291,
would reverse a specific court decision that favored the
Walgreen Co. against the city of Madison by explicitly
stating that leases can be factored into the property
valuations for locations that have them.
other, SB 292, states that assessors must use properties
that are within the same market segment and similar
property conditions, including age, condition, use, type
of construction, location, design and economic
characteristics when they determine the value of a
facility for property tax purposes.
The exterior of Menards is seen on Monday morning in
West Bend. The West Bend Common Council voted to approve
a resolution supporting legislation to combat “dark
John Ehlke/Daily News
Representatives from national retailers such as
Walgreens and Shopko have increasingly lobbied for
alternative valuation methods to reduce the value their
properties are listed with assessors, lowering the
property taxes they owe to the corresponding
municipalities — and these bills aim to address those
bills are important to West Bend officials because they
have been personally affected by issues related to dark
stores and other property tax valuation assessment
State Sen. Duey Stroebel authored one of the bills that
provides assessors additional tools from which to use
when assessing properties for tax purposes.
“This is really, just to say, to allow our assessors to
utilize the lease or the income stream that comes from
the property in order to make a value determination or
at least have a chance to factor that in,” Stroebel said
during a prior interview when he visited the Daily News.
West Bend officials understand intimately the importance
of this bill since Walgreens personnel challenged their
assessment for their stores in West Bend.
Walgreens personnel work with contractors to purchase
properties in different locations throughout the
country, including West Bend. They then build their
facilities to certain standards and offer lease
agreements to others that cover the costs for property
taxes and other expenses such as rent, operations and
They argued the payments they receive from those lease
agreements should not be included in the valuation when
city officials determine the property taxes they are
Representatives filed a lawsuit and won their court case
against Madison. As a result, city officials had few
options for recourse and had to acquiesce to company
executives who requested a lower valuation. Assessor
Jeff Yoder assessed the two Walgreen locations at $6.75
million and $5.7 million, but those valuations were
later changed to $2.4 million, costing officials almost
$180,000 in estimated revenues.
bill is meant to address that.
“What we are saying in Wisconsin is that you can look at
income, you can look at the leases because these very
same properties you see, the Walgreens that say it is
only worth such and such amount because that is the same
as this vacant store down the street, they are both
brick, the same size and the same amount of land — they
are two totally different animals,” Stroebel said during
an interview when he introduced his bill. “Those very
same buildings, when they sell them, they market them —
here is the cash flow and they apply a capitalization
rate to that cash flow to determine a value.”
Representatives from Menards and Shopko also want to
challenge their property value assessments, but using
different logic. They maintain their stores should be
valued when they are vacant instead of when they are
operating, but Yoder and other city officials contend
they are not comparable situations.
Bend could lose an additional $400,000 if
representatives from national chains have their way.
Even as potential revenues decline, the expenses cities
must endure to provide services to those locations do
Emergency responders must respond to incidents and
infrastructure for utilities must be maintained, so the
money to fund those initiatives have to come from
somewhere. That burden could shift to personal property
is either going to be a good or bad thing when it comes
to the floor in Madison and we’ll see, but it is
something that needs to be addressed statewide,”
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