Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Walmart suing county over property assessments

One of 95 appeals throughout Colorado

By Katherine Nettles

The world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer is suing Gunnison County over the value of its bricks and mortar.

Walmart Inc. has filed a complaint against the Gunnison County Board of Equalization (BOE) to protest its 2019 property valuation assessment for the Walmart store on North Main Street in Gunnison.

The property assessment is used for property tax purposes, and the valuation was lowered from $889,500 in 2018 to $838,310 in 2019.

The complaint was filed in Gunnison County District Court on November 25; however, Gunnison County attorney Matthew Hoyt said the county has not yet been officially served with the legal documents, and cannot therefore comment on the matter. Walmart Inc. is an international entity with a principal office in Bentonville, Arkansas.

According to the filing, Walmart claims the BOE valued its property excessively, failing to account for normal economic conditions and including business value in its calculations when assessing the property.

Instead of considering the actual sales price of similar property based on the market value, which represents what a potential buyer would pay a willing seller under normal economic conditions, Walmart states that the BOE did not consider all approaches to value, or the effect of depreciation, functional obsolescence and economic obsolescence.

“The [BOE] valuation of the property is excessive for the 2019 property tax year and does not represent the actual value-in-use for Walmart’s used personal property,” writes Littleton-based attorney Brian Huebsch of Anderson & Jahde, P.C. on Walmart’s behalf in the complaint.

Walmart petitioned a protest of its property valuation to the Gunnison County BOE this summer, and the BOE heard its protest in July before denying it in late October. Walmart has requested a reduction in its property valuation, “to an amount proven at trial,” as well as an award for attorney fees and related expenses.

Gunnison County is not alone in this type of lawsuit, however. Walmart is addressing the same issue in counties throughout Colorado. The local complaint also states, “Walmart and/or its affiliates have filed, or will file, 95 additional appeals of the valuations,” of properties determined by other Boards of Equalization across Colorado.

Walmart was contacted for comment but did not respond by press time.

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