PEWAUKEE — Thousands of tax
dollars are on the line for Pewaukee residents as Walgreens pursues
a major reassement of their property at 1441 Capitol Drive.
Walgreens believes the fair market value of their property should be
approximately $2 million, which is a reduction of $1,588,500, or
44.2 percent, of their 2018 assessed value.
On Thursday night, the Pewaukee Village Board disallowed Walgreens
Company’s “Claim of Excessive Assessment,” which means the
taxpayers’ dollar is safe for now.
However, if the tax reassement were granted, the village of Pewaukee
would lose $8,147, the Pewaukee School District would lose $15,574,
Waukesha County Technical College would lose $595 and Waukesha
County would lose $3,108.
Walgreens did not respond to a Freeman reporter’s request for
At this point, Walgreens has not indicated what steps, if any,
they’ll take to pursue the reassement. However, Village Trustee Ed
Hill said they do have the option to go after the reassement through
the court system.
“I see it as a potential obstacle that we’re going to have to make a
decision on if they do pursue the lawsuit and a claim,” said Hill.
“Do we defend it or do we settle? That’s another decision that we as
a board will have to make.”
This exact scenario, known as the “Dark Store Theory,” has played
out in many communities across Wisconsin. According to the League of
Wisconsin Municipalities, attorneys for big box stores use the dark
store loophole to argue that the value of a new store in a busy
commercial district should be based on the value of former retail
properties in unpopular areas that are now closed and vacant.
Backed by a 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision, Walgreens v. City
of Madison, big box stores have been successful in having their
properties reassessed at less than half of the actual recent sale
prices of such properties.
Now municipal and other officials are concerned since the tax burden
is being shifted to the homeowner. Hill, who views the whole
situation as unfair, said not a lot can be trimmed from the
operating costs of WCTC, local government and schools.
“The end result is often that businesses and homeowners have to pick
up the difference in that tax revenue,” Hill said.
The Wisconsin Legislature does have the power to close the
loopholes. In fact, the Legislature had the opportunity to close the
loopholes in 2018 but failed to do so despite broad support among
legislators. Now some local officials, including Hill, are asking
residents to reach out to State of Wisconsin representatives in the
Senate and Assembly to tell them to close the “Dark Store