October 18, 2018
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Lowe’s seeks big tax cuts for stores in Maine

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
Lowe's home improvement center is seeking major abatements of its property taxes in Maine. Among the stores that want a cut in taxes is the one in Thomaston.

The Lowe’s home improvement chain is seeking major property tax abatements for their stores in Maine.

The requests for abatements, filed this week on behalf of Lowe’s by the Newark, New Jersey-based law firm of McCarter & English, seek to cut the assessed values of each of their stores by millions of dollars.

In Thomaston, where the Lowe’s was built in 2008, the company has asked the assessment be reduced by nearly $6.9 million from the current $15.3 million. If granted, that would cut the company’s annual tax bill in Thomaston by $124,000.

Thomaston’s assessors’ agent David Martucci said the company also filed abatement requests across the state, including in Bangor, Brewer, Scarborough and Auburn. Lowe’s Presque Isle store, the only one north of Bangor, has not filed for an abatement.

In Bangor, Lowe’s is asking for an abatement of $4.5 million for the store built in 2009 that is assessed at nearly $12.3 million. This would result in a tax cut of $99,000.

In Brewer, the company has asked that its assessment of $12.5 million be reduced by slightly more than $3.5 million. If granted, that would reduce Lowe’s tax payments to Brewer by $76,000.

A request for an abatement of $3.8 million in Auburn would cut the Lowe’s tax bill by $82,000 in that city.

The company also is seeking a $5.3 million abatement for its store in Augusta, which is assessed at $14.4 million. This would, if approved, result in a tax cut of about $100,000.

In Scarborough, assessor Matthew Sturgis said Lowe’s has asked for a $3.8 million reduction in their assessment of $12.9 million in that southern Maine town. The store was built in 2007. An abatement of that amount would result in a cut of nearly $59,000.

Martucci and Sturgis questioned the calculations provided on behalf of Lowe’s.

The Thomaston Board of Assessors is scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider the abatement request. Martucci said he will recommend the town request additional information from the company.

“At this point, they have not provided evidence to support their request,” Martucci said.

The company sent along a list of Lowe’s stores that have closed across the country and the sale price of the property after the closures. The only store on the list from Maine was the Ellsworth store, which closed in October 2011. The property was sold in October 2012 for $3.2 million, according to the information provided by McCarter & English.

Martucci said those types of sales are not useful in determining the assessment of a property because companies such as Lowe’s place numerous restrictions on the use of the properties, which reduces their value.

Sturgis said it is common for large companies such as Lowe’s to make large-scale requests for abatements in hopes that some communities will grant the reduction.

In 2014, Wal-Mart sought large abatements from 11 communities in the state and succeeded only in two cases, both for far less than the amount requested.

Sturgis has 60 days to make a decision or to seek more information from the company.

If denied, the company can appeal to the State Board of Property Tax Review.

A telephone message left Thursday morning with a representative of the New Jersey law firm that is representing Lowe’s in Maine was not immediately returned.

 


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