By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – The city of Marshfield may join the Dark Store tax loophole campaign, as Wisconsin municipalities band together against some “big box” retailers.
The loophole involves active retail stores being taxed as if they were shuttered stores.
“There could be litigation,” Marshfield Mayor Bob McManus said. “Menards and Walmart are looking to, in essence, get their properties reassessed to lower their taxes, and they are going to use properties that are vacant. A property that is vacant is going to be less-valued than one that you are actually using.
“So, they are looking to do that and that would (make) their taxes go down, and we still have expenses; that means citizens taxes would go up. So, we are looking to get in on that with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.”
A proposal to contribute funds to the campaign passed during the Aug. 7 Finance, Budget & Personnel meeting, with a very narrow margin – 3-2.
“Initially, they were looking for $1,200. Alderman (Gordy Earll) proposed that we really get aggressive with it,” Mayor McManus explained. “It was approved at Finance, Budget, & Personnel to go to $2,500 and so that is in our consent agenda. We are looking forward to helping out with the other municipalities in Wisconsin.”
The recommendation will now go to the full council for approval on Aug. 14.
“My personal opinion is that it is worth it to fight for the citizens of Marshfield, because in essence, if (the big box store) taxes go down that could really affect every tax-paying citizen here in Marshfield; because, that money would have to be made up.
“So, it comes down to – what do you think is right? I appreciate those businesses being here… They are good businesses. They are good for Marshfield. But, at the same time, to compare your building to an empty building, really doesn’t make any sense.
“It is in our best interest to go along with the other municipalities and fight the good fight.”