MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Nodaway County Commission on Tuesday, meeting as the county Board of Equalization, took up a request by retail giant Walmart to have its assessed real property tax valuation reduced by 50 percent for the local Supercenter, a combination supermarket, department store and filling station complex located in the 1300 block of the South Main Street retail corridor.
According to documents filed with the county, the Walmart Real Estate Business Trust is being represented by Jerome Wallach of the Wallach Law Firm in St. Louis.
Wallach, who was a no-show Tuesday due to similar meetings scheduled at the same time in several other counties, has been hired by the Walmart Real Estate Business Trust to handle more than 200 assessment-reduction requests statewide.
Nodaway County Assessor Rex Wallace said that instead of attending repeated board of equalization sessions, Wallach apparently intends to let those panels render decisions without a Walmart representative present.
That will set the stage for Wallach to present appeals of those recommendations before the Missouri State Tax Commission, provided such requests are filed by Sept. 30 or 30 days following the county board determinations, whichever comes latest.
According to Nodaway County documents, Wallach is requesting that the market valuation of the local store’s real property, largely classed as commercial, be lowered from $7.79 million to around $3.9 million.
In Missouri, commercial property is assessed at 32 percent of its market value, in this case $2,493,820. The Maryville Walmart’s real property tax bill for 2018 was $204,577.
Documents state the request to lower the valuation is based on Walmart’s claim that “the value placed on the property by the (county) assessor is incorrect.”
Wallace, who refutes that assertion, told the commissioners Tuesday that there are only three permissible ways for county assessors to value property: cost, income and comparable sales value.
Using the much-smaller Maryville Walgreens as a point of comparison, Wallace said the South Main Street pharmacy and general goods retailer carries a market valuation of $5.4 million.
Wallace added that, according to research conducted by his office, the Walmart Supercenter, excluding the adjoining Walmart-affiliated Murphy USA filling station, comprises 168,000 square feet. This is about 15,700 square feet less than the 152,300 reported by the corporation.
The difference led Wallace to ask the Board of Equalization to increase Walmart’s market valuation of the local store’s real property from $7.79 million to just over $8.1 million. His request was unanimously adopted 3-0.
In total, the Supercenter complex, including a large parking lot and about 5 acres of agricultural land to the east, sits on 20.8 acres. Again, that excludes the gas station, which is classed as a separate company.
Wallach also is requesting a 50 percent market valuation decrease for the pay-at-the-pump station from $197,000 to approximately $98,000. The station has a current assessed valuation of $63,050 and paid $5,171 in real property taxes last year.
Assessor Wallace recommended no change to the current valuation, a request the board also accepted unanimously.
Should the Missouri Tax Commission agree to lower the valuation by the full amount requested by Wallach, Walmart’s annual local real property tax bill would drop from $204,493 to $102,873, according to figures supplied by the county.
Murphy USA’s real property tax liability would decrease to around $2,500.
The resulting revenue loss is projected to hit the Maryville R-II School District the hardest, reducing yearly income from Walmart real property taxes to about $63,000, down from 2018’s total of $126,383.
Next on the possible revenue loss list is the city of Maryville, whose Walmart real property revenue total could drop from $21,407 to just under $11,000.
Other potentially affected tax entities include Nodaway County, the Nodaway County Health Center, Maryville Public Library, Polk Township, the Senate Bill 40 Board (which allocates funds used to provide services for people with cognitive and developmental disabilities) and the Senior Citizens Fund.
Maryville Public Library Director Stephanie Patterson attended Tuesday’s meeting and said a 50 percent real property tax cut for Walmart would cost the library, which is 90 percent funded by property taxes, approximately $2,500 a year.
In terms of services, she said that translates to 25 new books, at least three children’s events and 90 days’ worth of electric bills.
“While not devastating, it would certainly not be without impact,” Patterson said.
There are currently 137 Walmart stores in Missouri including 109 Supercenters, 16 Walmart Neighborhood Markets and 12 Walmart discount department stores.
The addition of Murphy USA filling stations, which often operate in conjunction with Supercenters, and for which Wallach also is seeking reductions in assessed valuation, brings the statewide store total to 242.