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City Manager Talks on “Dark Store” Loophole

The so-called “Dark Store” loophole in state law is continuing to cause headaches for municipalities – even as some counties and cities push for legislation to end it. The loophole allows for owners of
large commercial properties to compare their operational sites to unoccupied
locations in the same vicinity. This often leads to them paying less in
property taxes than they would if the building was assessed as an operating
store. 

City Manager Joe Moore tells us even though those taxes are dropped – the city still needs to get that money from somewhere. 

He explains that “if the assessed value of a property goes down, that doesn’t changes the levy for any given municipality. What it does is – it spreads the responsibility for the levy to all of the other property owners. So if a large commercial property’s assessment were to drop by a million dollars, the property taxes on that million dollars would be spread across the other properties.”

Moore says the city doesn’t currently have a ton of options when it comes to combating the issue, and “as of today we really have three choices – one is, if the city is
challenged, we accept the property owners desired lowered assessment. Two is –
we could go to trial. And three is – we could attempt to settle the dispute
outside the courtroom.”

He says the city will continue to do what they can to help other property owners, saying “I think our duty is to negotiate with as much integrity and intensity as possible to protect all of the other taxpayers interests.”