The Kenosha City Council passed a resolution Monday night asking the State Legislature to pass a law addressing big box stores paying less in property taxes. The council passed the measure because if the stores’ tax bill is less, it could mean an increase in property taxes for homeowners in Kenosha and other communities across the state. The stores have been challenging their property tax bills in court and have had success in arguing that they should be taxed as if their buildings are empty. That argument in known as “Dark Store Theory” which is why it’s referred to as the “Dark Stores Issue.” Municipalities say that the property taxes should be higher on open businesses which use more services than a building that is actually empty. On a 16-0 vote the council asked state legislators to close a loophole in the current tax law which the big box stores have successfully used in court. However lawmakers in Madison have been hesitant to do so. A special session would be needed to address the issue as the state Assembly is out of session for the year, and the State Senate has one legislative day left on the calendar.
In other Council news, the aldermen passed two new tax incremental financial districts meant to clean up two abandoned gas stations. On is at 7th avenue and 75th street and another at 52nd street and 37th avenue. The move is expected to help raise 9 million dollars for the projects. Now the new move must be approved by a committee which will be put together with members from the city, county, Kenosha Unified, and Gateway Technical College. They debt created would be paid off in about eight years. The money would be used to help lure private developers to the abandoned sites after they’re cleaned up.
Also, the council honored Brody Chamberlin with an award for bravery. Chamberlin rescued a man who had fallen into Kenosha harbor. Chamberlin spotted the man in the water a grabbed him until he could pulled ashore by first responders. The 24 year old thanked the council for the honor and said that he would help someone in the same situation again.