Hermitage appeals Walmart decision

HERMITAGE — City officials will be appealing a property reassessment that is expected to cost Hermitage and its school district significant tax dollars.

Approved at their most recent meeting on Dec. 18, the Hermitage Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to appeal a property reassessment for the Walmart at 1275 N. Hermitage Road, Hermitage.

The revision, which was mailed to the taxing bodies on Dec. 10, reduces Walmart’s property assessment from $3,398,250 to $1,991,150. Under the new assessment, Walmart’s payment to the Hermitage School District would drop from $217,171.97 to $127,143.43, and payment to the City of Hermitage would drop from $16,991.25 to $9,955.75.

At the meeting, Commissioner Michael Muha said it was insulting and shameful for city officials to have to go through the appeal process, since Walmart receives so many benefits from being located in Hermitage, from road maintenance to police services.

Muha also challenged the “dark store theory” that suggests large retailers such as Walmart are struggling due to competition such as online shopping.

“I don’t see how you can say you’re a dark store when so many smaller retailers are going out of business because of you,” Muha said of Walmart.

While Muha pointed out the ways in which Walmart benefits from being located in the City of Hermitage, Commissioner Louis Squatrito also leveled the blame at the Mercer County Commissioners, who serve as the board of assessment revision and approved the lower assessment for Walmart.

“They’re the ones who dropped the ball on this,” Squatrito said of the county commissioners.

Dr. Dan Bell with the Hermitage School District previously said appealing the reassessment would likewise be recommended to the Hermitage school board at their next meeting.

In other business, the commissioners decided to table the motion to approve a land development plan for a Dollar General on North Buhl Farm Drive.

The commissioners decided to table the motion until their next meeting in January in order to have an extra month for the Dollar General project’s engineer to provide a stormwater management plan, which must then be approved by the Hermitage city engineer.

Though the city commissioners must vote to approve the land development plan so long as there are no legal issues and the plan meets all of the city’s requirements, Board Vice President Duane Piccirilli said there had been issues with flooding in the area and that he had seen firsthand yards and basements flooded.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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