ELLSWORTH — With one denied abatement waiting for a State Board of Property Tax Review decision, Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust has filed a second request to pay lower property tax on the Ellsworth Walmart for fiscal year 2021. The earlier abatement request was filed with the city in 2019 for the superstore’s 2017 taxes, and when the city Board of Appeals denied the request, Walmart turned to the State Tax Appeals Board, where its appeal waits to be addressed.
Walmart seeks to cut the assessed value of the Ellsworth store from $20.1 million to $10 million. At stake is as much as $180,000 in property tax for 2017 and each year forward, if the state appeal is successful, as the new assessment would be retroactive to fiscal year 2017.
The tax abatement appeal filed by the mega superstore chain has become standard operating procedure by Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust, which filed appeals for 2017 in at least eight Maine communities where it operates, using the “dark store” theory of assessment. That theory argues big-box retail superstores should be assessed as if they were vacant because of their specialty design, which leaves the properties at a low worth for subsequent buyers.
City Assessor Larry Gardner told The American that the new request is not a surprise given Walmart’s and other local big-box retailers regularly filing tax appeals.
The city Board of Appeals will hear Walmart’s request on Monday, Aug. 23, at 6 p.m., in the City Council chambers. The meeting will be livestreamed on the City of Ellsworth YouTube and Facebook pages.