ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - A Delta County Joint Governmental Round Table discussion was held Monday in Escanaba. One of the items on the agenda was an update on the “dark store” situation.
The issue is that big box stores, like Menards and Walmart, receive tax breaks because they are assessed the same as empty buildings of relative size and structure.
Municipalities are fighting back, citing the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
"A year and a half ago, it hit me that this case is going to affect everybody, every community, in the state of Michigan that has any kind of a retail big box chain, national franchise, anything," said Escanaba City Manager, Patrick Jordan.
Long cases like this take a lot of time and money. Many municipalities across the state have given money to the City of Escanaba in order to help with legal costs.
"Everyone's already aware of this case. They've been watching it for a long time through the appeal process. But I essentially just asked for help, I said 'I'm going to pass a hat around eventually here and ask all of you for your assistance because you have a vested interest in the outcome of this,’" Jordan said.
A retrial for the case will be taking place starting on May 13, 2019, at the Michigan Tax Tribunal in Lansing. Jordan and an assistant tax assessor plan on attending.
"We have a very good, very professional legal team that's working on this that's engaging other professional experts to testify. I'm confident in the work that we're doing," Jordan said. "I know the other side is doing the same thing, so we'll see what happens when we get there."
He adds that this retrial could lead to an important precedent.
"The case law would be the presiding rule until something else happens, so that's what we're hoping for,” he said.