Scheel’s All Sports is looking to get the tax bill for its Eau Claire store cut by 21% through a civil lawsuit filed last week.
The Fargo, N.D.-based sporting goods retailer is the latest company to sue the city of Eau Claire, alleging that its store has been valued too highly for tax purposes.
“Scheels is entitled to a refund of 2019 and 2020 taxes paid as may be determined to be due to Scheels, plus statutory interest,” stated the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Eau Claire County Court.
The city has assessed the value of the Scheels store — one of five anchor stores at Oakwood Mall — at $7.17 million, but the company’s lawsuit claims its value should be set at $5.5 million.
Lowering the store’s value would result in a $30,785 refund for Scheels from the $144,709 it paid in 2019 property taxes to Eau Claire. Changing the store’s value would affect how much it pays in property taxes for future years as well.
The legal team representing Scheels in the matter has previously sued Eau Claire on behalf of other retailers who contested their property taxes were too high.
Earlier this year Milwaukee attorneys Christopher Strohbehn and Russell Karnes reached settlements with Eau Claire in cases involving Walmart and Menards stores in the city.
Stephen Nick, Eau Claire’s city attorney, said the mutual resolutions in those cases reduced those store’s values to “a minor degree.” He adds that the settlements support the city’s methods for fairly assessing property values.
“The city similarly finds that the Scheels assessment was accurate and will defend it as necessary while being open to a reasonable settlement discussion in line with those of the Menards and Walmart properties,” Nick stated in an email to the Leader-Telegram.
For its two retail stores in Eau Claire, Menards’ tax bill was cut 9.5% when it settled with the city. In the lawsuits filed by the Eau Claire-based company, it had been seeking a reduction of at least 36%.
Walmart argued in court filings that its Eau Claire store’s assessed value should be reduced by as much as 56%, but the settlement with the city resulted in only a 4% tax cut.
Strohbehn and Karnes also have a lawsuit on behalf of Sam’s Club over its store at 4001 Gateway Drive. That case is still pending, according to online court records.
For more than a decade, various businesses, primarily retail chains, have filed lawsuits against Eau Claire and other Wisconsin cities to seek a reduction in their tax bills by arguing their buildings are worth less than their assessed value.