The Source: Lawsuit Could Mean Hundreds Of Millions In Taxes Lost

Oct 25, 2016

The strategy is called "Dark Stores." Lowe's is suing Bexar County to have its stores assessed as vacant empty buildings and not as vibrant profit generators.

Speaking on TPR's The Source on Tuesday, Mary Kieke, the Bexar County deputy chief appraiser said this claim isn't credible - but that doesn't mean it won't work.

"It makes me very nervous because they are deep-pocketed; a lot of appraisal districts are simply giving up and coming to some sort of agreement to lower their values."

Ben Gorzell, chief financial officer for the City of San Antonio, said this lawsuit ruling would impact much of the commercial property in the city.

"We could be looking at half of the commercial tax role over the next four or five years - and if we convert that into tax dollars we're talking about roughly $275 million over the next five years."

Gorzell said in order to make up for the lost tax revenue the city would have to raise taxes on homeowners and even that wouldn't be enough. City services would also have to be cut.

The Dark Store strategy has been used successfully in Michigan and it’s feared that it would start a chain reaction across Texas.

Gorzell said the city is looking for a solution in the Texas legislature.

A statement from Lowes said it’s always their intention to pay their fair share of taxes. 

Guests:

  • Ben Gorzell, CFO for the City of San Antonio
  • Mary Kieke, Deputy Chief Appraiser at the Bexar County Appraisal District