MAC prez: Bring ‘dark stores’ problem to a halt

MAC President Jon Campbell is an Allegan County commissioner.

MAC President Jon Campbell is an Allegan County commissioner.

MAC President Jon Campbell took to the pages of the Detroit Free Press today (May 29) to draw more attention to the growing crisis presented to local government services by the “dark stores” property tax technique: “This gaming of the system, known in tax circles as the ‘dark stores’ technique, must come to a halt before counties and communities across Michigan are stripped of the resources to operate basic public services. “Here’s how it works: Lawyers for the retailers convinced the Michigan Tax Tribunal, an unelected panel with jurisdiction over property tax appeals, to drop the traditional method of valuing such property based on the cost to construct a store, and instead, they convinced the tribunal to set values based on ‘comparable sales.’ These comparable sales, however, are few and far between in the world of big box retailing, which means comparisons are often to vacant structures or buildings that have been converted to unusual or non-retailing uses. “Retailers may also use deed restrictions to ensure that when they upgrade to a new or larger facility, their old facility can’t be purchased and utilized by a competing retailer, resulting in more boarded-up buildings in our communities.” MAC, led by Governmental Affairs Director Deena Bosworth, has been working closely with key legislators, such as Sen. Tom Casperson, and other government officials to craft a legislative fix to the dark stores problem.
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