Businesses Suing Wausau for Over-Assessment of Property Values

The City of Wausau is the target of three lawsuits filed by chain businesses who claim they over paid in their property taxes. They believe their 2013 assessments were too high, thus getting charged higher tax rates.

Sears, Applebees, and both of the Walgreens in Wausau allege the city owes them $176,335 collectively in tax refunds based on their assessments of their properties for that year.

Here's the breakdown:

- Sears
2013 City Assessment - $5,891,100
Property Taxes Paid - $141,976
Business' Assessment - No higher than $3,125,000
Prospective Property Taxes - No higher than $81,714
Refund Asked - $60,261

- Applebees
2013 City Assessment - $1,905,100
Property Taxes Paid - $45,919
Business' Assessment - No higher than $1,435,852
Prospective Property Taxes - No higher than $34,608
Refund Asked - $11,311

- Walgreens (both locations)
2013 City Assessments - $4,550,000 & $5,500,000
Property Taxes Paid - $109,655 & $132,555
Business' Assessment - No higher than $1,953,000 & $3,750,000 (These values were raised from $1,800,000 & $2,200,000 in their initial assessments due to a developmental agreement.)
Prospective Property Taxes - No higher than $47,067 & $90,375
Refund Asked - $104,763

The City, however is hold their ground and denied the justification.

"The values were established by this office and yes we do, we agree with those numbers," Wausau City Assessor Nan Giese said.

She said businesses are usually assessed based on the income approach, which looks at the potential gross income of a business and their expenses.

"Anybody can object to their property value at any time," she said. "Commercial property is quite different because when you have a commercial piece of property, what's happening in the market can affect that property."

She gave the example of a motel in a bear economy, meaning less business and lower value for that motel. That is what Sears is arguing.

"I think everyone knows what's going on with Sears stores," said Don Millis, the attorney representing the three businesses. "They are, many of them are closing. We think that that Sears is over valued."

He said it is difficult to fill those large department store spaces as well. In regards to Walgreens, he said it is also over valued and would be lucky to get $1.9 Million if they tried to sell from those location. He added most Walgreens throughout the state are assessed for about $2 Million.

"I mean you're talking about at $6 Million, you're talking about $400 a square foot," said Millis. "That's like values on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago."

Giese said she does not want to comment on these three pending litigation at this time.

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