Monday, August 13, 2018

Lowe's on track to get $130,000 property tax refund from city of Oshkosh

Photo by Miles Maguire
The city and Lowe's have agreed that the property on Washburn Avenue is worth $6.3 million.

By Miles Maguire

The Common Council is getting ready to approve a big property tax refund for Lowe’s Inc., the home improvement retailer that has been contesting the value of its store on Washburn Avenue.

The chain would get a $130,000 cut on its 2018 tax bill under the proposed agreement, which the council will review at its meeting on Wednesday. The refund would be for overpayments in 2016 and 2017.

The city would absorb the biggest hit, about $53,000, while the Oshkosh Area School District would be expected to give back almost $42,000.

The proposed settlement is the latest turn in the “dark store” dispute between local governments in Wisconsin and national retail chains.

The debate is over the proper method for setting property values. Rather than using construction costs or operating results, the retailers say their stores should be assessed based on comparisons to the value of similar structures, even ones that are vacant and not generating any income.

The retailers’ preferred approach is allowed under state law and has led to a wave of tax refunds to the companies.

While business interests say the tax reductions are a way of keeping consumer prices down, the cuts also mean a shift of costs to residential property owners and to owners of small businesses.

The Lowe’s property was previously assessed at $11.4 million, which prompted the company to sue the city. Under the agreement the company and the city will agree that the store is worth $6.3 million.

The company’s property tax bill for 2017 was $239,000.

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