Marquette County Board votes to create legislation to fight tax tribunals

The Marquette County Board decided to hire a lawyer to create legislation against Marquette Township’s tax tribunal issue.

The tax tribunal would change the way big box stores are taxed–the taxable value of a store, such as Lowe’s, could be reduced if it is considered “vacant”.

That might work in favor in some townships across the state, but not in Marquette Township where big box stores are not vacant.

“In Marquette County, is far different than a county–like value of a business in Flint,” Marquette County Civil Counsel Stephen Adamini said.  “The economic conditions are different, the competition situations are different.”

“Taking these stores and considering them empty and vacant is totally contrary to real estate principals,” Marquette County Commissioner Bruce Heikkila said.  “And it’s sad what’s being done here because the buildings are not empty in Marquette County–they’re full, and if you  used an income approach they would come out at a higher value.”

Adamini recommended the board should look into legislation rather than litigation, which could take years for the tax tribunal ruling to be overturned.

“I think our best chance is to come up with legislation,” Marquette County Board Chairman Gerry Corkin said.  “Hopefully we can muster the chief opponent in the Chamber of Commerce.  I know the U.P. legislators would be happy to have the help to come up with a bill.”

“We have numbers from the township that suggest if these nine stores are lost, the cost to local units of government are going to be $1.1 million, and that’s just looking backwards,” Marquette County Commissioner Steve Pence said.  “It’ll be an ongoing devastating loss to all of us, and it doesn’t take much for people in the City of Marquette to think ‘Gee, Shopko and Walgreens are next’.”

Nine stores in Marquette Township could be affected by the tax tribunal.

The board voted to spend $15,000 for a lawyer to create the legislation.