Friday, November 2, 2018

Oshkosh's tax base taking big hit from 'dark store' lawsuits, other state policies, Rohloff says

Mark Rohloff gives a budget update in a special edition of the "City Manager's Report."  
By Miles Maguire

The city’s property tax base has taken a $140 million hit because of actions and inactions by state government, City Manager Mark Rohloff said in a video produced in advance of next week’s annual budget hearing.

After closing a special development district and putting the real estate there back on the tax rolls, the city should have registered a gain of $145 million in property value, Rohloff said. Instead the increase was only $5 million.

He blamed changes at the state level, including the rollback of the personal property tax and cuts to industrial land valuations, both of which are determined by Madison.

A major factor in the decline in tax base, he said, is the ongoing litigation over the value of large retail stores. These cases, popularly known as the “dark store” issue, have resulted in the city having to cut the assessed value of outlets operated by national chains.

“‘Dark store’ .. is coming to roost here in Oshkosh right now,” Rohloff said. An effort to address the issue has attracted bipartisan support in the legislature but has run into strong opposition from business lobbyists, who have so far prevented action.

The city’s tax rate is currently projected to dip slightly next year, to about $10.50, but should be going down much more, Rohloff said.

The final rate will depend on the outcome of decisions by the Common Council later this month.

The city’s overall budget is projected to rise 2.5 percent to $75.2 million.


The council will hold a special meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. The agenda includes :

  • The public hearing on the 2019 operating budget.
  • Discussion of the 2019 Capital Improvement Program.
  • The possibility of using a vehicle registration fee to replace street special assessments for residential properties.
Watch the video here. 

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