Marquette Township deals with dark store difficulties

MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) – Marquette Township Manager, Randy Girard says since 2010, the dark store issue has cost millions and millions of dollars to local governments in the state of Michigan.

“When Meijer reduces their taxable value by $3 million and pays $138,000 less in taxes this year to the tax entities, they get less revenue than what they have projected this year,” Girard asserted.

In a statement, Wednesday, Meijer said they’re operating within the legal bounds of the law.

“The assessment, including state equalized value and/or taxable value, are at higher percentages of true cash value under the Michigan Constitution and applicable statutes…The assessment, including taxable value and/or state equalized value, are based upon erroneous determination of the true cash value of that portion of the Petitioner’s Property that is taxable under Michigan law and are based upon the application of wrong principles.”

Girard says he doesn’t blame Meijer for the decision.

“The state is allowing them the opportunity. I would if I was them. Their job is to make profit. Boycotting the store doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s not being done on a local level. It’s a corporate decision,” Girard argued.

Of course Meijer isn’t the only place in the township benefiting from the dark store issue.

“It has expanded into gas stations, smaller stores, everything else. So almost all of them either have been reduced, we’ve agreed to reduce or they’re in the process of filing,” Girard stated.

Walmart is one of the only stores that is not taking advantage of the dark store issue and they don’t intend to, according to Girard.

“Walmart came to us early on and said we disagree with this. We think the stores should be paying their fair share. We intend to pay our fair share of taxes,” Girard shared.

That still means there’s less money in the coffers for things like road repair, fire and rescue, MarqTran, the library, law enforcement, schools and the Heritage Trail.

“That means they have to go back to the residents for increased millages or cut services,” Girard declared.

Girard says he sees no signs of change.

“The State of Michigan for the last nine years has allowed that to go on. The state could have stopped it. State Tax Tribunal is a state entity. They’ve allowed it,” Girard reasoned.

So until new legislation can be passed, Girard says township residents may see cutbacks.

“We’re struggling. We’re about to start our 2020 budget cycle and we’re going to be struggling to keep providing the services that we’re providing. It’s getting to be difficult. Last year’s budget cycle we’re operating on the same revenue that we were getting in 2010. Costs are going up, our costs are going up. We’re absorbing those we’re trying not to increase costs to the residents,” Girard concluded.

TV6 & FOX UP will continue to follow the dark store cases throughout the U.P. and the state.

Aired on TV6 & FOX UP July 5, 2019

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