WAUKESHA — The city will settle
two recent property tax assessment lawsuits brought against it by
Aldermen voted 13-2 this week to approve an agreement with the
retail giant that will result in the corporation receiving a $43,703
property tax refund. Aldermen Kathleen Cummings and Eric Payne voted
against the move.
The lawsuits brought by Walmart argue that the city over-assessed
its Supercenter at 2000 S. West Ave. in 2017 and 2018.
Under the agreement approved by the Common Council, the city would
place the assessment for the store at $12.9 million — about $1.12
million less than what the city had originally valued the property.
The refund will cover both the 2017 and 2018 tax year challenges.
The 2017 refund of $21,737.16 is slated to be made within 30 days of
execution of the settlement agreement, and the 2018 refund of
$21,965.81 by Sept. 1.
The alternative to settling, explained City Attorney Brian Running
in a memo, would be going to trial.
“The risk in (going to trial) is that we may receive a less
favorable result,” Running wrote. “In light of the current state of
the law, the city must concede that there is some possibility of a
lower assessment being determined by a court. The advantage of
settlement is that we can reach a mutually-agreeable result and have
some control over it, rather than roll the dice and hope for the
best at trial.”
On Tuesday night he told aldermen that the valuation agreed to in
the settlement was much closer to what the city had originally
arrived at than what Walmart had requested in its lawsuits.
“Our outside counsel, which is hired by our liability insurance
company at absolutely no additional cost to the city, recommends
this settlement, (as does the city assessor),” he said.