Clock is ticking on dark stores

Capital News Service
LANSING — A delay in changing the tax math for big-box stores could cost local governments big bucks for generations, say supporters of a bill that would stop the stores from claiming big tax breaks. “That’s the really scary thing,” said Greg Seppanen, a former Marquette County commissioner fighting low tax assessments as part of the county’s Citizens for Fair Share. The Michigan Tax Tribunal hears appeals from taxpayers who think their municipality has over-assessed the value of their property. In 2013, the tribunal agreed with a big-box store that said the value of its property had more to do with their business and less to do with property characteristics. This ushered in a wave of big-box stores demanding tax breaks and pointing to vacant big-box stores  as evidence that local governments were overcharging them.

Schools could benefit from a state reform of how they can spend local tax dollars

Capital News Service
LANSING — School districts could have an easier time paying for security systems and classroom electronics thanks to a new bill that would broaden the use of the millage they collect. The legislation would affect sinking funds, which are better than they sound. They allow voter-approved property tax to be collected and spent by a district to buy land for a new school, build a new building or repair an existing building. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, would also allow sinking funds to buy equipment and technology. According to a House summary of the bill, 173 districts have sinking funds.