Minocqua has reached a settlement agreement with Walmart in a dispute over how much the retail giant owned in real estate taxes for their Minocqua store in 2017.
The agreement, which still needs to be signed by Wal-mart Realty Company’s lawyers, will result in $9,206 being returned to Walmart, said town chairman Mark Hartzheim.
The town board accepted the agreement after a closed session Monday. The town and Walmart had been in mediation. The town’s insurance carrier, Employers Mutual Casualty Insurance Companies of Brookfield, covered the litigation costs.
Hartzheim said the agreement upholds the town’s overall assessment of Walmart, but made allowances for having brick instead of block mistakenly listed on a portion of the building.
Walmart will now withdraw all its property assessment claims covering 2017 through 2019, Hartzheim said. “They were going for huge numbers,” he said, referring to the disputed taxes. Walmart was claiming excessive taxes totaling $100,052 for those three years.
The town’s assessor had placed the store and its land at a value of $11,252,000 in 2017, but Walmart claimed its value was $8,600,000. For 2019, the town lowered Walmart’s assessment value by a million dollars, but Walmart claimed its value was just $5,100,000.
The town chairman characterized the settlement as a “win” for the town, adding, “We have a lot of evidence and belief that our assessor was correct.” If Walmart would have prevailed on its claims, the tax burden would have shifted to other real estate owners in the town, he said.
The returned taxes will be apportioned to the elementary school district, Nicolet College, Oneida County and state, as well as the town.
Assessors set values on commercial properties based on building and land costs and its use.
In recent years, Walmart, along with other major retail chains such as Menards and Walgreens, contend the valuation of their property should be based on comparable stores in the area that are vacant (“dark stores”), rather than those that are occupied and thriving. They say it’s not appropriate to assess value based on what’s inside their stores, in addition to the building and land.