Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 11, 2014

County could fight GT Mall property tax appeal

TRAVERSE CITY — Garfield Township officials want Grand Traverse County leaders to help fight an appeal over the Grand Traverse Mall’s taxable value.

New York City-based Rouse Properties Inc. purchased the sprawling mall along South Airport Road in Garfield Township in 2012 for $66 million. The township assessor set the property’s taxable value at about $30 million, but Rouse Properties officials contend the figure is closer to $18 million.

County Administrator Dave Benda said county officials need to be careful when joining townships to fight tax appeals.

“If the county starts to contribute to one, it’s pretty hard to be fair and constant and not contribute to them all,” he said last week.

But many county officials supported funding the fight against the Grand Traverse Mall appeal during a meeting last week, and said the case could establish guidelines to determine when to get involved in future appeals.

The county stands to lose about $57,000 in general fund dollars and another $14,000 in special millage funds annually if the appeal is successful, according to county records.

The Michigan Department of Treasury also intervened in the appeal. The state Attorney General will lead the legal defense and pay half the cost of an appraisal, which could exceed $40,000, Garfield Township Supervisor Chuck Korn said.

“They’re the big player, and they’ve got 16 mills from the state education tax,” Korn said.

County Finance Director Dean Bott called the appeal the “perfect case” for the county to join.

“The state is involved,” Bott said. “That doesn’t happen very often. You have Garfield Township willing to fund 25 percent of the cost and based on the value, or the tax revenue, that the county stands to lose here, this is really one that maybe kind of establishes the bar ... .”

County commissioners will consider the Grand Traverse Mall appeal and establishing criteria for intervening in future appeals during a committee meeting tonight at 6 p.m. in the Governmental Center.

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