Local governments in the Upper Peninsula are raising money to pay expert witnesses in a major dispute over the taxable value of big-box stores.
The Michigan Tax Tribunal will hear a case next year involving a Menards store in Escanaba. City Manager Patrick Jordan says Escanaba is trying to raise $200,000, which would trigger another $200,000 from the state Treasury Department.
Jordan says approximately $171,000 has been raised. Marquette County has given $10,000.
Big-box stores have been reducing their tax bills by convincing the Tax Tribunal that their stores are so unique that they should be assessed at much less than the cost of construction. The loss of revenue has hurt many communities.
The state appeals court rejected Menards' approach and told the tribunal to allow the parties to present more evidence.