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Houghton continues ‘dark store’ fight with Walmart

HOUGHTON — After consulting with the city attorney, Houghton will not accept Walmart’s second offer in their request for a lower taxable value on their property, City Manager Eric Waara said Wednesday. 

One reason why: It was the same as their first offer, Waara said. 

“They don’t want to negotiate at all,” he said. 

Walmart is requesting a “dark store” exemption for their property, which would value the property at the same rate as an empty building. That would drop the taxable value from $49.73 per square foot to $32 per square foot. 

That would reduce tax revenue in the county by about $104,000, and in the city by close to $34,000, Waara said. The majority of that money, about $70,000, goes to school aid, Waara said. 

The city will continue talks with Walmart, Waara said. 

“If you don’t fight it, I’m going to say the state is complicit and gives it to them in a lot of cases,” he said. “So we certainly need to keep up on this and keep working on this, because they’re trying to do it to everyone.”

In its petition to the Michigan Tax Tribunal, Walmart states the amount and the percentage of true cash value is above what the Michigan constitution allows.

As a result, the petition states, the assessment denies Walmart’s rights to “uniformity, equal protection and due process of law.”

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