By Tim Kowols
The battle over so-called “dark stores” is creeping into more Wisconsin communities like Sturgeon Bay. According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, 79 Wisconsin communities had appeals of their property taxes filed against them in 2017, which was 16 more than the previous year. Big-box retailers are some of the biggest culprits of the actions against municipalities, arguing their location’s property value should be judged against all similar properties whether they are vacant or in use. Sturgeon Bay is currently reassessing the property Wal-Mart sits on after the company’s real estate business trust filed suit against the city in Door County Circuit Court. City Administrator Josh VanLieshout credits the League of Wisconsin Municipalities for their fight for closing the loophole because of the financial hardships it causes.
VanLieshout expects its case with Wal-Mart will be settled this fall and that the Wisconsin Legislature will take up the issue in its spring session.