U.P. lawmakers address Escanaba ‘Dark Store’ issue

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Escanaba City Council prepares to fight dark store appeals

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Cambensy Urges Governor to Support Escanaba in ‘Dark Store’ Case in press release below:

MARQUETTE — State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette) and her fellow Upper Peninsula lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today to call on her to support the city of Escanaba in litigation currently before the Michigan Tax Tribunal. After receiving support from the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court, the city of Escanaba continues to fight against the ‘dark store’ practice of allowing stores to be valued as if they were vacant in local tax assessments. The letter urges Gov. Whitmer to increase the cap on state support in their effort to solve a nearly decade-old problem facing municipalities throughout the state.

“Today I stand with my fellow U.P. colleagues and request the governor and state treasury approve additional money to allow a Real Estate Market Economist to testify in the Escanaba vs. Menards tax tribunal case set for May 13,” said Rep. Cambensy. “It is imperative that we have an expert like this testify on how big box stores calculate their risk when opening new stores, claiming they are ‘dark’ on day one and not worth new-building taxable value, then passing that risk onto our state, counties, cities, villages and townships.”

This ‘dark store’ method of tax assessment has left municipalities in the U.P. and throughout the state without the revenue they need to support vital community police, fire, ambulance and library services. Joining Cambensy in the letter to Gov. Whitmer are state Sen. Ed McBroom, and state Reps. Beau LaFave and Greg Markkanen.

“Our local units of government have to have a fighting chance in the courtroom next week to assess a fair-market appraisal on the store’s value,” said Cambensy. “Corporations need to pay their fair share and not balance risky business decisions on the backs of individual and small business taxpayers.”

A copy of the letter sent to Gov. Whitmer is below. 

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