Waukesha council to vote on $33K settlement with Woodman's
Business filed dark store lawsuit last October

By Ashley Haynes

July 2, 2019

WAUKESHA — The Common Council will vote tonight to settle a “dark store” lawsuit filed against the city in 2017 by Woodman’s Food Market.

According to meeting documents, the settlement would be an agreement that the main Woodman’s store be assessed at $14,300,000 and the convenience store at $1,450,000 for both 2017 and 2018, which would mean the city would need to refund Woodman’s a total of $33,294 for both tax years.

The refund would be payable Sept. 1.

“This is another of the many excessive-assessment lawsuits brought against the City by large retailers,” according to meeting documents.

The only alternative to the city reaching a settlement with Woodman’s would be the case going to trial.

In the lawsuit filed by Woodman’s, the company had claimed the values of the main store and convenience store should be $14,000,000 and $1 million respectively.

The city assessments were for $15,136,200 and $1,468,800.

“The disparity in opinions is not as large as in many of these suits,” according to meeting documents.

The suit filed by Woodman’s last year used the the dark store theory, which allows big box stores to operate under the same property tax assessment of an empty or “dark” store.

Several others big-box retailers in Waukesha — and across the state — have claimed this and won a settlement for most of what they are asking for as a refund.

City officials throughout Wisconsin have argued the dark store 'loophole,' as the issue has often been termed, is threatening to reduce corporations’ local tax bills while pushing higher property tax costs to nearby homeowners.

The council will vote on the proposed settlement tonight at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 201 Delafield St.