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Press Release


Contact:

Derek Melot
MAC
melot@micounties.org
(517) 375-0883

Jenn Fiedler
MTA
jenn@michigantownships.org
(517) 321-6467

Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073
mbach@mml.org; www.mml.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2016

Bipartisan House Vote Advances 'Dark Stores' Reform; Legislation Provides Fair, Equitable Property Tax System

LANSING, Mich. ― A large, bipartisan House majority today approved House Bill 5578, which would reform Michigan’s property tax system to ensure fair and equitable treatment of property values.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Maturen (R-Kalamazoo County), cleared the House 97-11 after a short debate in which proponents detailed the need for reform in wake of recent Michigan Tax Tribunal decisions relying on the faulty “Dark Stores” valuation technique.

This tactic, first advanced by Big Box retailers such as Target and Menards, upended decades of property valuation practice to determine values solely on a comparable sales approach. A lack of comparable properties, coupled with the use of extensive deed restrictions to severely limit competition, has led to a greatly distorted valuation process—with the Tax Tribunal slashing valuations, and taxes, by 50 percent or more for these retailers.

The ultimate losers in this scenario are Michigan residents and small businesses. Instead of maintaining the services that residents and businesses rely upon, local governments have been forced to write checks to national retailers exploiting this Dark Stores loophole.

Maturen’s bill would prevent this tactic by requiring the Tax Tribunal to consider all of the nationally accepted valuation approaches (sales, cost and income) to determine the “highest and best use” of a property for purposes of assigning value.

“This issue is about fairness, not politics—as the bipartisan support shown by the House today indicates,” said Judy Allen, Michigan Townships Association director of government relations. “HB 5578 (H-2) represents a narrowly tailored and practical approach. Adopting uniform and proven appraisal principles will result in more fair, transparent resolutions to assessment disputes before the MTT and tax equality across the board for all taxpayers.”

“What the House saw, and acted upon today, is the need to restore fairness to the system, and the fact that Rep. Maturen’s bill does so in a common-sense fashion,” said Steve Currie, deputy director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “Despite what you might hear from certain business groups, the Dark Stores loophole created inequality; Maturen’s bill restores it.”

“We are pleased with the bipartisan support this bill received in the House and look forward to taking this common-sense approach to the Senate,” said Chris Hackbarth, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.

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