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12/3/2017 7:06:00 PM
Tax assessment appeal will reduce Merrillville distribution by millions

Chas Reilly, Times of Northwest Indiana

MERRILLVILLE — A successful property tax assessment appeal will result in Meijer receiving a refund of more than $2.2 million.

Town officials said they were recently notified Meijer won the appeal that reviewed assessments going back 12 years for the property on U.S. 30 near Merrillville Road.

According to information provided by Merrillville, Meijer will receive a tax refund of almost $1.74 million and an interest refund of $531,000.

Large retailers in Merrillville and other areas of the state have won property tax assessment appeals by comparing their properties to other vacant buildings.

Meijer's total refund will be paid all at once in December by reducing the property tax distribution to Merrillville's various tax increment financing districts by slightly more than $2.1 million. The approximately $139,000 remaining will come from a reduced distribution to other Merrillville taxing units.

Town Manager Bruce Spires said Merrillville prepared for the possibility of a successful appeal by limiting spending in TIF districts to ensure there is adequate resources for a refund. The distribution to Merrillville's general fund won't be reduced for the refund, he said.

Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said he was disappointed the refund would occur in one lump-sum instead of being spread out over time.

Council President Richard Hardaway said issuing the refund all at once at least saves the town from having to pay additional interest.

Hardaway said there are other big-box stores in Merrillville seeking property tax assessment appeals. He said the Meijer appeal was the largest of them.

With the potential for more refunds associated with big-box appeals, town leaders have been advised to evaluate the potential financial effects they can have on the municipality.

Spires said Merrillville employees won't receive raises in 2018 because of the chance for more successful appeals.

He said the town is making that decision because the municipality doesn't want to face a situation in which raises would have to be taken away if more refunds must be issued.

Related Stories:
• St. Joseph County to pay back nearly $10 million in property taxes after appeals

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