Houghton has entered a final agreement with Walmart that will keep both parties out of federal court. Earlier in the year the city council approved a settlement strategy, which has been negotiated over the past several months. The new agreement with Walmart replaces the city’s original 2004 development agreement with a service agreement. Walmart will pay an annual service fee to the city to pay for costs the city incurred for wetland remediation and infrastructure developments.
“In short, the new agreement is a service agreement. And will replace the 2004 development agreement. The 2004 Development agreement set a taxable value for the new development. Including public service improvements in exchange for the city fulfilling wetland and environmental permitting conditions infrastructure improvements and property and other considerations related to that expansion when they made it a super store.”
Part of the new agreement will have Walmart pay a retroactive service fee for years after 2018 when the retailer filed an initial lawsuit against Houghton. Those retroactive payments will add up to forty thousand dollars.
“The reason it goes back to 2018 is because their tax tribunal case, which was stipulated earlier here, went back to 2018. So this agreement recognizes that we stipulated back to 2018 according to the tax tribunal case. OS they’re recognizing the stipulation of the taxable value back to 2018. So they are agreeing to pay for 2018 forward. Prior to that, we hadn’t stipulated a change to their taxable value.”
The retroactive payments will go back into the city’s TIFA fund based on the advice of the city attorney. In June the city and Walmart avoided a court date for the state tax tribunal court agreeing to meet outside of court on a settlement. The new agreement between the city will have the two parties move forward without seeing each other in a federal courthouse.