SOUTH BEND — St. Joseph County will refund nearly $10 million in taxes to property owners who successfully appealed assessments, more than twice as much as last year.
So far this year, the county has calculated it will refund $9.7 million in taxes, which includes $1.3 million interest, because of appeals. That’s more than double the total refund of $4.7 million in 2016, which included $264,000 in interest. Most of the 2017 refunds have been made, but some large refunds have been put on hold.
County Assessor Rosemary Mandrici, who took the post in 2011, pointed to the recent settlement of property assessment appeals with Meijer as one of the main reasons the refunds climbed so sharply.
Of the $9.7 million in refunds that were calculated, nearly $3.5 million will go to Meijer. The county agreed earlier this year that the retailer paid more than its fair share of taxes on its three stores in the county for years dating back to at least 2011.
The county has already refunded Meijer $700,000 for its Bremen Highway store in Mishawaka; and in the coming years, it will refund $2 million for the Grape Road store in Mishawaka and $750,000 for the Portage Road store in South Bend.
Settlements come as Meijer and other big-box retailers are looking to cut property taxes by arguing active stores should be taxed the same way as vacant ones.
A large backlog of appeals continues to be addressed by the five-member property assessment appeals board. This year, the board reduced the backlog by deciding on appeals dating back to 2007. Mandrici’s office, however, couldn’t provide the number of open appeals on Wednesday.