February 20, 2017          No. 8

2017-18, No.8
February 20, 2017

In this Issue:

Enormous Effort Needed on Dark Store

More than 100 Lobby Team Meetings

League Staff to Testify Before Ways and Means

In the News

Recently Introduced Legislation

Public Hearings
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
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Enormous Effort Will be Needed to Pass Dark Store and Walgreens Legislation   
Two of the League's top priorities for this session are: 

1) Passing legislation closing the dark store tax strategy being used by big box retail stores like Target, Meijer, Lowe's, Home Depot, Menards and others to argue that the assessed value of a relatively new, thriving store should be based on the value of vacant or abandoned buildings of similar size. Courts in other states, like Michigan, have endorsed this theory. We are concerned that if the argument is successfully applied in Wisconsin, even more of the property tax burden will shift to homeowners.  

2) Passing legislation that reverses Walgreens v. City of Madison, a 2008 decision that Walgreens and CVS stores are using to successfully argue in court that the assessed value of their properties should be less than half of actual sale prices on the open market. The two have already sued more than 100 Wisconsin communities, claiming that their actual sale prices don't represent market value and the underlying leases are the wrong tool for determining the property's value for 'property tax purposes.' For example, in a December decision, the Court of Appeals, relied on Walgreens v. City of Madison to conclude that a CVS in Appleton should be valued at $1.8 million, much less than the City's $4.5 million assessment based on an actual sale of the property. 

Opposition Building.  The bills we seek are nearly ready for introduction. Even though the bills haven't been introduced yet, the opposition is already at full power.  Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Walgreens, Big Box Retail Associations are lobbying against any changes in state law.  Naturally, they want to retain the tax advantages they have gained at the expense of other taxpayers, primarily homeowners.  

Our Legislative Champions .  We are working with Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) on the Walgreens reversal legislation.  Our champions on the dark store legislation are Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) and Rep. Rob Brooks.

We need your help!  To counter the opposition to our legislation we need municipal officials to advocate for homeowners and other taxpayers that will be forced to pick up more of the tax burden if these bills are not enacted.  Here are ways you can help:

-- Learn more about these loopholes and the resulting tax shift by checking out the dark store resource page on the League's web site.

-- Pass the dark store resolution posted on the League's website.  (If your community has already passed the resolution then please email us a copy.) 

--Send us data about reductions in property values that Walgreens, CVS and/or big box stores have successfully argued for in your community.  Tell us how much of a tax shift to other taxpayers will happen as a result of the reduction in assessed valuation that has occurred.

--Communicate your support for our legislative efforts to your legislators.

--After you contact your legislators, help create a buzz and click here to tweet your support.  

The only way this legislative effort succeeds this session is if many municipal officials advocate for its passage.  The fight has just begun.  It will be a long process. Stay tuned for updates.  Thanks for your help.   
More than 100 Lobby Team Meetings

The League's February 15 lobby day was a big success.  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos spoke to the group about the need for the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a long-term sustainable solution to the state's chronic transportation shortfall. Rep. John Macco, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, discussed his committees project of reviewing Wisconsin's state and local tax structure at the Lobby Day Luncheon. 

Mayor Mike Wiza and the Stevens Point delegation was interviewed by the sister station of WSAW. The reporter tracked them down in the Capitol rotunda. Sun Prairie Mayor Esser's meetings were also featured in the Star here

Thanks to the League Lobby Team members who met with their Legislators in the Capitol and those that are meeting with them in their Districts. 

You can join the Lobby Team. The next Lobby Day is May 10. Learn more here.
League Staff Invited to Testify Before Assembly Ways and Means Committee this Week

On Thursday, February 23, at 10:00, the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means will hold another in a series of informational hearings on the state and local tax structure. Jerry Deschane and Curt Witynski have been invited to speak to the committee about municipal sources of revenue, including the property tax and state aid programs like shared revenue. They will be joined by Eau Claire Finance Director Jay Winzenz, who will explain Eau Claire's municipal budget and the strategies the city uses to pay for the services that citizens and business expect.  
In the News

As Wisconsin Legislature Debates Roads, Local Officials Make Economic Development Case
"Local government leaders in Wisconsin say tax dollars from more economic development in their areas are key to pay for local infrastructure improvements, but they also recognize it's that very same infrastructure - things like good roads and a faster internet - that's crucial to foster economic growth.

A recent  survey of officials from the nearly 600 Wisconsin cities and villages belonging to the  League of Wisconsin Municipalities shows economic development is the top priority..."
Read the full Wiscontext article
here .
Send Us Your Postive TIF Stories

We are in a coaition with the Wisconsin Realtors Association, NAIOP and the Wisconsin Economic Development Association to gather positive TIF stories. Please email your TIF stories to league@lwm-info.org
Recently Introduced Legislation  

AB 70/ SB 42 , Allowing Municipalities to Publish Meeting Minutes on Their Website in lieu of Newspaper Publication. Authorizes city councils and village boards to satisfy their legal obligation to publish the proceedings of regular and special meetings by posting a copy of the proceedings in 
a public place and electronically placing a copy of the proceedings on the Internet site maintained by the community. By Rep. Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Sen. Stroebel (R-Saukville). The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill
Public Hearings  

No hearings on municipal bills are scheduled for this week.