Wal-Mart seeks $100,000 tax cut from Rockland, eyes statewide reductions

Ocean State Job Lot bought the Wal-Mart property on Route 1 in Rockland in December 2013.
Stephen Betts | BDN
Ocean State Job Lot bought the Wal-Mart property on Route 1 in Rockland in December 2013. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 16, 2014, at 10:59 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 16, 2014, at 3 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Wal-Mart has asked for a property tax cut of more than $100,000 from Rockland.

City Assessor Dennis Reed said Saturday that Wal-Mart is also looking into the assessments that municipalities have on all their stores in Maine.

Wal-Mart’s store in Rockland was assessed at slightly more than $8.5 million on April 1, 2013. The international retailer has asked that the assessment for 2013 be reduced by nearly $5.4 million to $3.1 million.

That change would reduce Wal-Mart’s property tax bill in Rockland by $105,240. The company was the third highest taxpayer in Rockland in 2013 with a bill of $166,232. The abatement, if granted, would reduce that bill to about $61,000.

Wal-Mart is basing its request in Rockland on the sale of the property to Ocean State Job Lot in December for $3.1 million. Wal-Mart sold the property after it relocated in October to a larger Walmart Supercenter about three miles south on Route 1 in neighboring Thomaston. The assessment for properties in Thomaston for 2014 have not been set since they are based on their status on April 1.

The Rockland property consists of a 94,000-square-foot building on 10.5 acres. The store was built in 1991 and underwent major renovations about five years ago. The new store in Thomaston is about 150,000 square feet.

Reed said he will be requesting more documentation from the company before making a decision on the request.

Wal-Mart can appeal the assessor’s ruling either to the Rockland Zoning Board of Appeals or the Maine State Board of Property Tax Review. Either the municipality or business could then appeal to Maine Superior Court.

The Rockland assessor said he is also aware that Wal-Mart is looking into the assessments of all its stores in Maine. He said a Wal-Mart representative from Texas was in Maine last year, gathering information on those assessments.

He said the former Wal-Mart store in Scarborough had been assessed by the town at $9 million but was sold to Marden’s for about $5 million.

There are 22 Wal-Mart stores in Maine. The Wal-Mart store in Bangor is assessed at $18.4 million.

Amanda Henneberg of Wal-Mart said Sunday she was researching the reason why Wal-Mart was looking for an abatement. She pointed out that Wal-Mart has 19 supercenters, three discount stores and three Sam’s Clubs in Maine. Those stores employ 7,436 people. The average wage for full-time workers is $13.43 per hour. She said the majority of workers were full-time.

Wal-Mart also paid $18.5 million in taxes and fees to the state in 2013. The company also donated $7.8 million in 2013 in Maine, she said.

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