Wal-Mart Wants 50 Percent Break on Appraisal

Wal-Mart at The Highlands is seeking to depreciate the value of its building by 50 percent, said Ohio County Assessor Kathie Hoffman.

County Appraiser Jeff Prettyman said the request for the 50 percent reduction only applies to the value of the building. While the county’s appraisal for the building was $12,987,001, Prettyman said Wal-Mart based its 50 percent reduction request of $5.2 million on what it would cost to replace the building with a new structure – $10.5 million. He said Wal-Mart had no problem with the land on which the building stands being valued at $9,583,900; the company estimated its worth at $9.5 million.

Hoffman said that during a recent Ohio County Board of Review and Equalization hearing, Wal-Mart officials asked the board for the reduction. But Hoffman does not believe the board should grant the request. She said the county’s 2013 total appraisal for the Wal-Mart site stands at $22,571,000. Wal-Mart officials want that total appraisal reduced to $14 million.

Assessed values equal 60 percent of the appraisal.

”They’ve never been here before,” Hoffman said of the hearing process conducted by board, which consists of county Commissioners Orphy Klempa, Tim McCormick and Randy Wharton. ”They have always been satisfied.”

Hoffman believes Wal-Mart’s main argument for needing the reduction is that the building now is just too big.

”But they use every inch of it. I can’t do anything – you’re the one who built the building,” she said. ”They want a depreciation of 50 percent and the building isn’t even that old. … We have a depreciation of 15 percent on it.”

Across the country big box companies, such as Wal-Mart, are beginning to construct smaller stores instead of well-known super centers, she added.

”The sales taxes show they are doing great up there,” Hoffman noted.

Hoffman said hearings will be held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for Kohl’s and at 7:30 p.m. for brothers Jim and Jonathan Duggan. On Thursday, a 6 p.m. hearing will be held for the Wheeling Newspapers, while Cabela’s will have a hearing at 7 p.m. Final decisions will be made by the board at a later date.