Communities like Sturgeon Bay will not be able to count on the Wisconsin Legislature in their battles with big-box retailers over property assessments. Senate Republicans blocked efforts to close a loophole allowing retailers to challenge their property taxes by comparing their stores to those that are vacant. After being removed from Governor Tony Evers’ budget, the bill presented in the Senate had the bipartisan support of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats before a vote on the issue was prevented. State Senator Dave Hansen calls the move hypocritical.
The city of Sturgeon Bay and Wal-Mart are currently in the middle of settling on a new property assessment after it was challenged in 2018. While groups like the League of Wisconsin Municipalities say the “Dark Store Loophole” enables big retailers to avoid paying their fair share for services, others like the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce argue closing it would villainize businesses providing jobs in the community.