Taxes — April 1, 2013

Multibillion dollar Meijer, Inc. finds another way to screw Michigan cities and kids

by

Sometimes you just have to ask “How much money and greed is enough?”

NOTE: This post has been updated HERE.

Meijer, Inc. is one of the largest privately-owned companies in the country. When he died, Frederick Meijer, the son of the founder of the company, was worth $5 billion. The stores pioneered the concept of “one-stop shopping”, a shopping center where you could buy everything from car batteries to fresh broccoli.

This past year, Meijer, Inc. has been challenging its tax assessments around the state, saving itself millions and millions of dollars, money that is coming, in large part, directly from the coffers of the municipalities and schools where their stores are located. The Lansing area seems particularly hard hit:

The Meijer store at 2055 W. Grand River was extensively remodeled and reorganized last year to maintain its footing in the lucrative Okemos market.

Yet, the Michigan Tax Tribunal has accepted an agreement between Meridian Township and the retailer to value the store for property tax purposes between 2010 and 2012 as if it were “dark,” meaning it was closed and for sale during that time.

The settlement means Walker-based grocery and general merchandise chain Meijer Inc. will receive refunds totaling $320,165 from several public agencies, including Okemos Public Schools and the Okemos Downtown Development Authority. And it’s not an isolated case.

The DDA will be required to refund around $86,000 in taxes. The financially-stressed Okemos School District must repay $130,332.

Meijer has successfully challenged assessments at dozens of other stores, including one at 1350 W. Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing. There, the taxable value was reduced a total of $1.4 million for 2011 and 2012, resulting in $203,000 cut in property taxes, said David Lee, tassessor for the city and Meridian Township.

Meijer has appealed property tax values for 97 of its 140 stores dating back to fiscal year 2009, Michigan Tax Tribunal chief clerk Peter Kopke said. Thirteen cases are pending.

Meijer isn’t the only big box store doing this. Home Depot and Lowes are, too. The result is that these profitable companies are extracting money from schools and the local government at a time when both have already coughed up significant funds in terms of reduced funding to pay for corporate tax breaks these same companies are already enjoying. This only serves to compound a financial catastrophe already in progress around our state.

I understand the desire to maximize profits. All companies have that as their overarching aim. But when you help to destroy the cities in which you operate and the schools of the kids that live in the community that your PR people brag you are so concerned about, the rest of us really begin to wonder just how much money is enough and just how greedy do you have to be before you get labeled as “evil”.

It looks very much to me like Meijer, Inc. is trying to find out.

[Public domain image credit: Mrmiscellanious | Wikimedia Commons]

  • Harold DeHart

    There are many who think and declare that Meijer is so much better than WalMart. I guess, not so much!

    • StopHate

      Meijer is union, that’s a big difference. Yes, they do shady business things, so does my employer.

      • tcidda

        the union is in their pocket so why have it at all.

        • Bledsoe

          How is the union in their pocket or are you just wishing your fantasy will come true. The company was scum and is scum but blaming a union that has no clout whatsoever is childish.

          • tcidda

            have some experience with that union and it is no good.

      • Matt

        Thanks for pointing this out. I will begin shopping at Walmart.

        • Tommy Elliott Lfd

          walmart is way worse when it come to their employees, and Meijer’s is a peon compared to Walmart. 4 out of the 10 richest people in the world are Walton’s who own Walmart.

          • Bledsoe

            That has little to do with the evil that lurks in Meijer’s headquarters. Even Walmart has stopped doing this although not until pressured to do so. Meijer has been convicted of trying to rig elections and other sh!t. They are as morally worthless as it gets.

    • Mary Priebe

      Yes but there’s a lot of small stores that we can go to there will not take the schools money!

      • Bledsoe

        Excellent point. But keep in mind that Meijer is totally committed to driving those small competitors out of business with absurdly low prices aimed at specific markets until they control the local market.
        They offset losses with BS such as abusing the dark laws. Those laws will be changed hopefully to prevent scum like Meijer from screwing communities.
        Just make sure to continue to give them all the publicity their willingness to screw the schools deserves and tell your friends why they should research all the reasons to NEVER shop at Meijer.

  • kidcat24

    I don’t declare any Big Box store is better than another. The Big Box kicked Ma and Pa to the curb. Stay out of them. They have all destroyed our towns and cities.

    • tcidda

      you and i both know though that soon big box stores is all that will be left.

    • Mark Hayward

      Fredrick Meijer started with a Ma and Pa store …

      • OgaryO

        And now that ma and pa are dead its just greed greed greed.

      • Bledsoe

        What’s your point? It’s not a Ma and Pa store any more and it’s not a Ma and Pas store that is killing local economies.
        His start up morphed into a Ma and Pa store killer. Try to keep up. What he was is irrelevant. What his chain of stores is now is despicable – deplorable even. Very Republican.

    • Bledsoe

      Move ahead four years to present day America and we see how corrupt the country really is. A morally bankrupt populace just elected the poster boy for screwing people, hating, cheating, raping and assaulting women, and generally lying more than any candidate in history. The idiots loved him, elected him and are committing hate crimes and saying thank god for Trump.

  • just a voice

    I have some problems with this article;
    1 – why specifically target Meijers? The article says other stores are doing this so unless Meijers is leading the way then talk about the whole problem rather then focus on one specific retailer unless there is a reason.
    2 – I don’t believe that an school will be cutting Meijers a check, like the article seems to imply. The local government owes them the money and they will get the check from them. While this will effect school budgets and that really sucks, but spell it out a bit better as to how things will really happen.
    3 – finally, lets get just a bit of perspective from the company in question. Contact them and give them a chance to explain, maybe while all the people living in Michigan had their house values lowered over the past few years (mine was) and the same wasn’t done for retail, even though their market value declined due to the weak economy. Again, not saying that happened, but this is a one sided and poorly researched article.

    • Michael McGuinness

      In the form of call backs, as our local library board refers to it, the public library indeed pays back property tax dollars that were ultimately not collected due to delinquent payment for the concluding year’s property taxes. I believe that is paid back to the county for those instances.
      So, (extrapolating out that the same would apply for a lowered sum through board of review and tax tribunal process) no matter which governmental entity is the one that formally cuts the check back to the appealing property taxpayer, the funds are very much being drawn out of that local library or school district.
      And I make that point broadly, not to target one lax taxpayer or calculating corporation. The fact remains, however, that decreased tax collection no matter the method or root cause behind it leads to dwindling shared services.

    • tcidda

      and what exactly do u think the Meijer corporate people will tell you?If they want to keep their jobs they will follow the company line.

    • OgaryO

      I worked for Meijer for 28 years and all they do is screw over the people that try to make them a good company. As management they make you work 44 to 48 hours a week. With no over time compensation, and then when you think everything is going good they decide to reorganize and when I was working there they reorganize 17 people out of our company out of the 17 half of us had 20 to 35 years with the company and that’s the thanks you get from these creeps when Fred was there it was wonderful but now they’re just a bunch of greedy bastards and they don’t care about anybody but themselves.

      • Charles Bolter

        Exactly true. And if this is coming from someone who worked in management and “towed” that line for so long (28 years), even if you don’t believe everything he/she has to say, having been in management, there has to be quite a bit of truth to what this person just said. They don’t even advertise on television anyone with that lady that “used” to be the on-air spokeswoman. Why? Because she probably doesn’t believe half of the stuff that she used to “spew” out, and you could also say that back in those days, perhaps some of the values that “Fred” upheld with/for the company and the things she used to promote about how Meijer supported and or “gave back” to the local communities’ in which they were located is simply not true anymore. Yet when we see that lady who is president/ceo of Kroger (this is a current and ongoing television commercial), comes on to tell us just how much Kroger donates in millions of pounds of food just the “Eastern Food Bank” of Michigan and just how many products Kroger purchases that are made in and or come from Michigan (is actually quite astounding), and honestly, it’s admirable and really something to behold. I’m proud to walk into Kroger, knowing that the things I purchase, like eggs, cheese, milk, (many, many fruits that are in season), and tons of different produce ALL come from local, Michigan farms is something that is outwardly apartment and goes to the consumers sense of loyalty because we want to but “Michigan” made, and to boot, we’re NOT paying more for this and at the end of the day (or checkout), it makes us feel good. That’s something you do NOT hear at Meijer (either now or even in the past – from what I can recall). That old Meijer slogan about “why pay more” just doesn’t carry any weight anymore. Kroger’s slogan should be “why not pay the same or even less when you know your groceries comes from hard-working farmers who very well may just be our neighbors who live across the road from us”. I know, too long to be a slogan, but it’s true.

        • Pandora’s Box

          Kroger’s treats their employees like crap severely underpaying their workforce and overpricing their food to the point that the employees can’t afford to shop at their own store. Not to mention the “5 second rule” applies in the deli and bakeries everywhere. I used to work for Kroger’s and watched every person, including the managers drop rolls on the floor and then put them in the bags for you to eat. And not just one store, I worked for every Kroger in the region and it was the same everywhere. Keep singing them praises. I laugh while you crunch on dirt.

      • tcidda

        corporate at Meijer has money signs for eyeballs.All they want to do is enrichthemselves.

    • Charles Bolter

      But you’re free to google and do the research on your own. It sounds like you’re either a Meijer employee or a shareholder with stock in this company. Or maybe you have one of those cushy jobs up there at the corporate headquarters. It’s no secret that Meijer’s “values” have went down hill immensely since “Fred” passed away. And the article does mention other companies that are doing the same thing, but I believe that Meijer is being singled out mainly or firstly is because they are a Michigan based company, whereas the other’s mentioned are not; that in itself, I would imagine that you’d agree, makes “it” more personal since we’re supposed to automatically have more “trust in” and expect a higher level of integrity from a company where they got their start and their “beginnings” in Michigan. If Meijer was based out of California, Texas or some other state, I could see and or wonder why they would seem to be singled out, but again, they (Meijer), one would think, is supposed to sure, be a business first (make that money), but secondly and perhaps even a close 1st, support and “give back” to (in all the ways that count), to Michigan, from the state level, all the way down to each and every little and or big city that they have a store in. If you did notice, a good store that’s also “family” based and has strong ties to Michigan (who does not participate in these “evil” doings that’s being mentioned in this article), is none other than “Kroger”. Perhaps it’s not as big of a store as Meijer and they don’t claim to be your big box, have it “all” store, but as far as groceries go, and actually quite a few other things (not just food items), they are quite competitive and in many ways, quite often, they beat prices for the same and or similar items (food especially), than Meijer. Kroger also donates millions of pounds of food to local and statewide food banks. In addition (and this can be googled), they purchase and sell more products that are locally produced and come from Michigan, such things like Milk, eggs, cheese, fruit and produce. Kroger maintains this truth on almost every commercial they have on television. Meijer has never maintained and bragged about selling local, Michigan based products. Why? Because of price. They have to purchase many things out of state and their non-food items from overseas (like China), so they sometimes outsell items cheaper thank Kroger. But if shop and look/follow closely at things, you’ll see that Meijer makes up for the savings that the customer is getting in other places from week to week. Kroger, while perhaps being a smaller chain (not by much), maintains the ability to hold and put on many of the same sales/promotions just like Meijer. Kroger offers every so often in their sales ad a 10 for $10 deal; they have and package their “own” labeled brand of food products that carry the “Kroger” brand and even have their own selection and offer many flavors of Kroger branded “colas/pop”. And btw,I don’t work for Kroger or have any steak in their company. I just know that their middle name isn’t “greed” like Meijer has seemed to adopt as of late.

      • Stephanie

        Meijer is a privately owned company.

      • Bledsoe

        Meijer isn’t the only one doing it as stated in the article. They are however the best and most aggressive at doing it. They are ruthlessly destroying community operating revenue using or abusing the dark laws. They will be changed to stop Meijer and anyone else who abusing the law.

    • tcidda

      why contact them?all they’ll do is lie.

    • Bledsoe

      Wow. If you don’t understand the article, and clearly you don’t, have a grown up explain it to you. You have 33 up votes so your inability to grasp the issue is not unique, but still very sad.
      Meijer is in fact leading the way as the most aggressive abuser of dark laws.
      Why not research what they are doing in the states where their stores are located. The are using dark laws that were designed to help closed stores reduce tax burdens. Meijer says if they are renovating they qualify for the tax break. even if the store is 100% operational. They are using closed stores in one part of the state to screw a community where more profitable and more heavily taxed stores are located. It’s something a sneaky, scumbag does.
      Meijer has tried to rig elections in parts of the state where their stores met resistance from commutes that didn’t want stores located in specific areas. They are as corrupt and criminal as it gets. They were convicted and paid the largest fine allowable by law. The criminal prosecution for other crimes was obstructed by friendly Republicans in government – more corruption.
      There is no company in Michigan more willing to break the law, screw people and damage communities than Meijer.
      You miss the point about what taxes pay for. When Okemos for example had to give back tax money, hundreds of thousands and in other communities, millions, plus lose future lax income, the city had to make cuts, diminish city services like police, fire, and education. That’s what has and will really happen. What more do you need to know that Meijer is evil – by choice.

  • That’s why I would rather shop at Harding’s. Low prices come with a price.

  • No one bothered to explain why this is BEING ALLOWED to happen. No explanation at all.

    • Charles Bolter

      Well, you’re on a computer. Google it, call around, get the number for the Lansing chamber of commerce. Do your own research. An article is just there to give you the “jest” of an ongoing issue, not to spell out every little detail. It’s actually find and interesting to someone’s google issues that we read about and much of the time, we find out extra things and additional “evils” that weren’t touched on in the main article.

      • Kelly Zimmerman-Frame

        Wow, this was TWO YEARS ago. Buzz off TROLL. You must be so bored. lol

        • Charles Bolter

          That was unfair and uncalled for. We all have our own opinions and are (should be), allowed to express them. Considering the amount of information available on the internet these days and when you take into account when a person has a particular experience (that coincides with a topic that’s already been discussed about..like the one here), it’s perfectly acceptable to put forth a comment like I did. Unless the discussion board pertaining to this very topic has been closed (and it’s still open for people to “make a reply”,), then it shouldn’t be shunned or have someone be called a troll. I’ve read people’s comments on YouTube to video’s that where over 5 years old. And then all of a sudden a discussion takes on a new light and gets renewed with more thought, opposition and support. What’s wrong with that?

    • tcidda

      because everybody is in on the take.

  • BuckeyeAZO

    I don’t get the controversy. Meijer overpaid its taxes and is entitled to a refund. If I paid too much, I’d want a refund too. How many of you donate your income tax refunds to Lansing or Washington?

    • Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit apparently.

      • jpe

        they pay property tax based on the FMV of the property. if the city overstates the FMV and assesses based on an inflated value, then of course they’re entitled to a refund.

        • They’re claiming an FMV based on a store that is closed and for sale. It was neither at any point in the last year.

          • tcidda

            like any other company they lie,steal,and cheat.

          • freaky-deaky

            so isn’t that up to the local board of review to deal with?

          • Bob Drexler

            First, you go to local board of review, if turned down you can go to the State Tax tribunal. There are a lot of laws are how properties are valued and clearly the state thought they were over taxed. I think it should be left entirely to the local cities but thats not the state law.

          • tc

            corporations don’t go to the board of review, they go straight to the tax tribunal, who is appointed by the governor, and at this time is extremely corporate friendly. The tax tribunal does not base their assessments on the same rules that assessors and local boards of reviews are required to.

    • tcidda

      you must be smoking funny tobacco

      • Gord

        No, he made perfect sense.

    • Charles Bolter

      Normally I WOULD AGREE with you, but you’re not seeing the “whole” picture here, and it’s partly the fault of that link that doesn’t seem to work. Here is another link because I did my OWN research. And I think if you read it, you would see that Meijer is doing some shady business used a theory called the “dark store” theory when their properly tax assessment is being calculated. While I’m not an attorney nor am I a property tax assessor, I believe I understand what Meijer is attempting to do here and I think, to me, it sounds underhanded. While I would agree with you that if you were owed a refund for overpaying your taxes, yes, you should get that money back. But as I understand the article coming out of Lansing, it goes somethink like this:

      http://mibiz.com/neUws/design-build/item/22798-unfair-comparisons-meijer,-other-big-box-retailers-use-%E2%80%98dark-store%E2%80%99-loophole-to-cut-their-michigan-property-tax-bills

      Imagine for a moment the you own TWO Meijer stores okay? And the tax assessor comes by and determines the “state equalized value” of your store (that current properly for that particular tax season/year”. Right? And it comes to “x” amount of money. Well, lets say that after that year is over, you decide that you want to remodel the store that you just paid your property taxes on (and this happens to be an older model store). So lets say that while you’re renovating/remodeling that store, you end up temporarily closing that store for 1-2 years. So now the next tax season comes upon you, and the tax assessor comes by and determines what you’ll have to pay that year for that tax season. And guess what, of’ course it’s gonna be lower, because number one, the stores closed and it’s being remodeled (so until it’s done and reopened, no one knows what the “new” property tax will/would be. Now imagine that rightfully so, you’re quite happy to have paid less taxes on the store that’s being remodeled and closed. Who wouldn’t be. But here’s the catch/or underhanded thing that’s being done. Meijer is going backwards to that last year BEFORE they closed the store for the remodel and is “challenging” the validity or taxes that were assessed and essentially saying that they should ONLY have to pay the amount for taxes based on the dterminations that was MADE WHEN/AFTER THE STORE WAS CLOSED – which we all know was determined to be a LOWER/LESSER amount. Now I ask you, is that right? So they’re asking for a refund on the difference and they are being granted (because they have good, high priced lawyers), this and much of the money that the city/township has to cough up is coming out of the budget/monies that have been allocated/set aside for the local schools in the area. That’s where the article gets part of it’s title from when it saws on how our kids are getting “screwed”.
      Now why are they allowed to re-challenge as assessment based on a store that at one point was open and now that it’s closed, they’re getting handed money back because for some reason they feel they’re owed and their taxes should have been calculated based on a now closed store (dark), when at the time of the original tax assessment, it was in-fact open? I don’t get how they’re getting away with this, and this is what is making Meijer look so bad. And I get how some people are saying and wondering why Meijer seems to be singled out, when other big box chain stores are going it, but I don’t see it that way because as it’s already been mentioned, Meijer is being singled out, rightfully so, in my opinion because THEY are a Michigan based store and were founded/started here in Grand Rapids, Michigan And for this reason alone, they should bear the brunt of the “evil” as it’s being described as in this article simply because most people in Michigan would normally regard a company that has it’s “roots” here should be held up to a higher, moral level of integrity than those other stores that may be doing the same thing, but because they’re not based and nor were they founded in Michigan, like Meijer was/is. Shame on Meijer for doing this; I believe the author here. All I did to further my understanding of this was type into Google was “Meijer challenging it’s property tax assessment”. And you won’t believe how many results you get, ALL saying the same thing. Which also leads me to believe that there IS more TRUTH to this practice of a “dark store theory” than it being fiction. Just Google what I mentioned and you’ll see that same thing(s) I just read. The link I put in there is just one perfect example. Happy Reading.

      • tc

        Actually, what is happening is that the big box stores are going to the tax tribunal, claiming that the store that is open, and operating a viable business, and many times less than 3 or 4 years old, is worth less than the land that the 5 or 10 million dollar building is built on. They base it on the claim that the building would have to be torn down if they ever quit doing business there.This because the building is built specifically for their business, and they have a covenant on the deed which states that the type of store they are running cannot be operated on that land. (a department store can’t be built where Meijer’s is, or a hardware store can’t be where the Menards store is) The covenants lower the land values. They claim that the store that is there lowers the land values even more, and use a 30 year old store that is closed down and for sale in a depressed neighborhood 300 miles away as a comparison for valuation, and the local board of review or equalization department has no say in the valuation of corporate property.

  • marvyt

    Actually, many thousands of individual homeowners as well as most businesses have sought to lower their property taxes over the last 6 years. I know some of the people who work at the Tax Tribunal and they were working serious overtime and hiring extra judges to handle all those caseloads, especially 2008 to 2011. Property values have plummeted so businesses and individuals have sought to reduce their taxes to reflect current market conditions. It’s kind of unfair to target Meijer on this. Also, the article didn’t reflect the fact that the appeal was filed originally because of a drop in market value starting in 2010 – long before the renovation.

  • whatever thats where those kids will be working anyways in a few years

    • Charles Bolter

      Yea, with support from a Union that as good as your grandma with “false” teeth, or rather no teeth at all. And probably understand a contract that barely gives them minimum wage with little or no raises throughout the time they put in working there (even if that spans over years). There are employees there now (who have been there more than 8, 10 and 15 years, for example), who entered in with employment at Meijer at a time where the Union (for which the employee has NO choice but to allow money to come OUT of their paychecks in order to “support” this Union), under contracts back then where as their compensation allowed to gain reasonable raises throughout all those years they’re put in there now, and ask anyone who’s been there more than 8 to 10 years (or more), and they would tell you that they’d be crazy to quit, because, for example, as a greeter with that kind of “time” under their belt, they’re making upwards of $15 a hour OR MORE. And I kid you not. That was a time when the Union actually had more bargaining control over the particular contact that was in effect at the time said employee was hired. Simply put, you would start out at a certain wage, and over time (lets says every six month, or year, the contract itself stated that the employee would get “x” amount of a raise (no if’s ands or buts). The only reason that they may of not been granted these yearly or every six month raises would of had to be because of some sort of negative or really, really bad review and or some real negative discipline issue. And even then, when the store had it in for an employee and either tried to fabricate and or levy an amount of discipline that was unjust for whatever infraction that they employee committed, again the Union was there to actually “side” with the employee and fight for him/her.

  • Dave

    Well, were they really paying too much to begin with? Look what the auto companies did to Lansing……… We either need to fix the problem or get used to this type of tax issue. Make it fair to begin with for all and then stick to it.

  • A Thinking Person

    This is a BLOG. It is the writers opinion to target Meijer and not the other stores. It is the writers opinion to not include relevant data such as the current market or the way property value has seriously declined in Michigan over the course of the last decade. It is the writers opinion to try and make such a big deal out of this. I like the point of trying to make it such a big deal that the owner “WHEN HE DIED” was worth 5 Billion. I am so sure that from the grave he is demanding the tax cuts. Because let’s start off with that number, a huge figure that people will grasp onto, not the fact that the dollar figure relates to a deceased person.

    Let’s look further into this shall we?
    “extracting money from schools and the local government at a time when
    both have already coughed up significant funds in terms of reduced
    funding to pay for corporate tax breaks”

    Claim made by the author. Data or factual information to back that up included? Nope. So based on the way this blog is written, Meijer specifically harms the local towns and cities around them due to the unnamed corporate tax breaks. No mention of the amount of people employed by Meijer during this same stretch of time. No mention of the cost of the remodel that this article is specifically using as an example. Did they use a michigan construction company to do the remodel? Did that give some people who never know when the next job will be here a decent time frame of regular work when in many areas of the state finding a job is impossible.

    Where is the mention of the state manufactured products that Meijer sells and stocks in all of their stores? How much does Meijer help to support and keep these companies/farms running? They don’t have to do that. They could get their milk from any of the major companies instead of going with Guernsey Farms, just to name one company.

    When it comes down to it, this is nothing more than an inflammatory opinion piece with very little factual data to back any of the opinions up. The author hopes you will take their word for it and run off badmouthing Meijer. The author makes the claim that Meijer is saving itself millions and millions of dollars, but when it comes down to it can only show around $500k being refunded back to them. What happened to the millions and millions? How about just one?

    This is a garbage article, with garbage information on a garbage blog. It is not well written and the author does not understand the concept of a factually based article. It is biased against Meijer for some reason, possibly it being privately owned still unlike Lowes or Home Depot, or possibly because they once worked at a Meijer.

    • You funny. Me work at Meijer? Hah! Perish the thought.

      The people in Michigan are well aware of the fact that the GOP gave a $2 billion annual tax cut to businesses in this state.
      Also, read the article again. Meijer is asking for a tax break that they would have received had they closed the store for remodeling which they did not, in fact, do. They kept the store open but want to be taxed as if they were “closed and for sale”.
      This is on top of the tax cuts our corporatist Republican governor and his pals in the state legislature already gave them.
      This isn’t about them wanting fairness. It’s about them extracting as much for the local community as they can. In other words: greed.

      • Gord

        Were sales tax still collected and paid to the state during that time?
        Yes
        Didn’t employees continue to collect paychecks during that time?
        Yes
        Were SSI, Federal, State, & Local taxes still collected on payroll checks?
        Yes

        Keep putting pressure on a Michigan based outfit and they will do like all others, Leave!
        GM, Ford, & Chrysler did it years ago under the disguise of NAFTA.

        • Charles Bolter

          Heck yeah I’m all for it! Let Meijer leave, I’ll pack their bags, let them put for sale signs on all their stores; we don’t really want them here anyway. And you know, let fair places that sell Michigan based products like MIlk, dairy, cheese, eggs, fruit and produce buy out those locations and put their well established stamp over than stupid “M”. Of ‘course I’m talking about “Kroger”. Most people don’t know this, but if you’ve worked for Meijer, either currently or in the past, their main competitor is NOT Wal-Mart or Aldi’s, It’s actually “Kroger”. why? because Kroger’s model for selling, advertising, fairness, buying Michigan based products and selling them their stores; Meijer is afraid of that, no one would think, this little stores that are half the size of Wal-Mart and just a bit bigger than Aldi would be such a threat to Meijer, but Kroger is a huge threat to Meijer. And why? Because Kroger KNOWS how to compete is the grocery business. They know how to treat their employees well, and this rubs off and in turn Kroger employees treat their customer’s with kindness, respect, dignity and give them a sense of worth when they come into a Kroger store, this is why a customer of Kroger WANTS to come back when it’s time to get groceries again. And it’s certainly not about price, lol. For all Meijer’s FRILLS about being able to have and sell car batteries, shoes, and clothes, when it comes to groceries, Kroger matches Meijer’s prices and or beats them week after week. And customer’s are proud to shop at Kroger because once again, they’re not caught up in some “evil” controversy, and they ARE a Michigan based company.

          • Stephanie

            Who is this “we” you speak of? Certainly NOT the majority of those who shop at Meijer, work at Meijer, or otherwise think positively of Meijer.

            I’m guessing you work for Kroger?

          • youngoldbones .

            Your employment with Meijer can end at anytime, mine did, no warning, after 12 years, they don’t care, just Stoney indifference.

          • todd

            Kroger is an ohio based company based in cincinatti. what is in michigan is a subsidiary the kroger co. of ohio

      • tcidda

        I happened to be working at a Meijer that was being remodeled.We were open 24/7 during the remodeling.It was a mess but close the doors HELL NO.Not even contemplated as far as i know.We were not told how the store was classified for tax purposes butit wouldn’t surprise me if games weren’t being played.BOTTOM LINE is ALL this company cares about.

    • Concerned Poster

      Meijer actually bids their jobs out…they don’t care if they are a “local.” business or not. As for the comment on the Dairy that they use, It all comes from a Meijer Dairy in Wisconsin. They have severed ties with all Small mom and pop dairy’s forcing some of them to close. I think the key point of the article is that they are bidding to remove tax cost that would be going to help the schools. A tax cost that they should by rights pay. I don’t get to barter with the state on property that I own. I’m sure that would look rich in the courts….”tax me if my home were a one bedroom 500 sq ft home instead of the 2 story 5 bedroom home that I actually live in.”

      I own the property, I agree to pay the tax. Fred Meijer would never have made a deal like that with the city, which I think was another point OP was trying to make. When the boys moved Janet from Wally (Yes i worked for them for almost 20 years) the place went down hill morally. Janet was brought in to make the place as profitable as walmart. In a seemingly short period of time she has done just that. Meijer has grown in profit over the last 8 years or so mostly by cutting costs. The morality is the issue at hand. They barter for the taxes that they are paying, (removing money from the community,) they cut team member incentive earnings by more than half, (also removing money from the community), they fired more than a quarter of their leadership, and they removed the ability for any part time person to work more than 28 hrs per week.( again removing money from the community). I forgot to add that they maintained the same wages for employees while increasing the amount that they take out for health care. A health care that Meijer re-negotiates each year for cheaper cost for themselves. This means that a topped out team member brings home less and less each year but pays more money for worsened health care.

      Meijer, is of course not the only big box company to make such changes in a hurting economy, but the big question from the article is how much is enough? Is Meijer really doing this (and all other cost saving measures) to stay afloat? Or are they making the company appear more profitable on paper no matter whom they hurt? All so that the boys and Janet can take the company Public and be even richer than they already are at the cost of the communities they say they are “helping”.

      • Concerned Poster

        I should probably add that I willingly left Meijer from a leadership position by obtaining a degree and finding a better job in my field. I was not let go and by no means were my criticisms due to a lack of fondness for the Meijer stores. It is actually quite the opposite. I loved my Job with them up until Janet moved in and the “big box mentality” took over the company. Fred bowed out due to health and age and the greed of the boys and Janet took the company to a moral place that I didn’t agree with.

      • Charles Bolter

        AMEN

      • Stephanie

        In 2012, Meijer bought a Holland-based dairy farm and the milk sold in Michigan is produced there.

        http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2012/03/meijer_buys_holland-based_bare.html

    • HGould
    • Charles Bolter

      You may be correct on many of the issues that you point out, but I would also you to just pull up Google and type in the sentence “Meijer challenging property tax assessment”. And there are TONS of results that come back with a well established theory that’s called or labeled the “dark store” theory.
      And since it is a blog, perhaps some of it is conjecture, but like I said, if you Google what I mentioned, there are other legitimate, articles that have ben written based on this practice that they’re being accused of employing and many of the Google based results/links that I found were genuine articles and not just one person’s opinion/blog. Lastly, I’ll say it again, that I believe that Meijer is/was being singled out simply because of the fact the issue of “tax reassessment” that being discussed here is highlighting Meijer first and foremost because THEY are a Michigan founded/based company (out of Grand Rapids, Michigan). And rightfully so, it makes sense for the blogger to single them (as well as mentioning other big box stores that are doing the same thing), out because upon doing my Google searches on Meijer challenging tax reassessment in Michigan, it’s a known issue that’s impacting our state. Which is why, at least for one reason why Meijer is being singled out. And I wouldn’t doubt that Fred was probably worth (or had a net word), at least close to what the blogger stated above. I mean, imagine how much money all the stores make annually (and we’re not just talking Michigan), but when you combine all of the other states that Meijer has stores in (and I believe it’s somewhere like 7-8 states, that’s a heck of a lot of stores per state and times that by 8 states. I’m just saying that according to all of the results that Google brought up and the articles that I’ve read regarding this issue that’s impacting individual township economies in Michigan, there has to be some truth to all of this.

  • okemosrez

    meijer should probably just close down and fire all their employees. This company obviously does nothing for its community.

    • Basically what you’re saying is that people should never call bullshit on Meijer’s corporate greed when they try to skip out on taxes they owe because they also do good things. It’s okay to fuck over students and the cities that provide the basic services needed to support a huge store if you also do good things.
      And that, of course, is a thoroughly disgusting argument.

  • Chris

    When we discuss school money, we are forgetting that the Lottery revenues were supposed to be for schools, but the fund became too big and so lawmakers decided to put that money into the “general fund”, therefore starving schools of money when times were tough….And now, instead of blaming lawmakers for poor money management, we are blaming businesses for doing what they are supposed to do…finding ways to survive long term including the bad times….Maybe government should take some lessons from business..Save for a rainy day…even if that means looking like a scrooge when times are good…

  • Forsetti

    I live within a couple of blocks of the Okemos Meijer and their remodeling did not take two years and they never interrupted sales during that time. It would be interesting to see gross sales receipts over the period they claim they were “dark” compared to previous years covering the same months. Meijer certainly should be castigated for this but a large part of the blame goes to Meridian Township because this payback to Meijer only occurred because of an agreed upon settlement with the Township. I’d like to know the thought process behind their decision to settle the matter.

    • HGould

      It is possible the Township could not afford the legal fees to appeal the Tribunal decision…

  • sue

    why pick on meijer. why not walmart look into them.

    • Mainly because Meijer is a Michigan company screwing over Michigan cities and Michigan kids.

  • Paul Rogers

    Thanks
    to Meijer, after 39 years of dedicated dairy and milk deliveries. Dean
    foods of Evart Michigan who made Meijer milk is out of business with 200
    people permanently laid off and that dairy was 53% of that community.
    Meijer math – http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2012/08/closure_of_longtime_dean_foods.html

    • JD

      Now if only all the dairy companies would go out of business, it would be great!

  • James Zablocki

    Oh, boo hoo, the lazy POS politicians can stuff as much free money in their pockets! That just brings a teardrop to my eyeball. I guess if the cities and towns where these stores are located didn’t overtax them to begin with, then they wouldn’t miss what they never had, and should not have had in the first place. How about they just pull out and these places lose all of that convenience and become ghost towns?! That’d solve the problem, not wouldn’t it!! Be grateful for what you have and quit whining!!! Also, Public schools (indoctrination centers) on the whole suck anyway, so I got zero sympathy. I am a results guy, and I believe Americans are the dumbest in the world, or closing in on the title. Where are the results? Those who can do, those who can’t ….. If last place is what we get for our money, I think I’ll pass.

  • illusive man

    Meijer and Walmart They are in the same They are Both EVIL They want to Destroy American Jobs / mom and pop shops out of business !!

  • illusive man

    Meijer and Walmart They are in the same They are Both EVIL They want
    to Destroy American Jobs / mom and pop shops out of business !! We need
    to End Meijer and Walmart Forever!

    • Cristóbal Colón

      Actually Meijer is currently run by a former Walmart VP. Fred would have NEVER EVER let an ex-Walmart manager become CEO. Hank, Doug and Mark Meijer are lazy asses that never intended to run the company long term. Meijer will have to go public in less than 5 years or be bought out or run out of business.

      • samurai6669

        How do you know that? Did you know Fred?

        • RAPIST Bill Clinton was Prez

          Actually, yes I did know Fred and I worked for Fred.

          • Concerned Poster

            The boys are actually bringing in a lot of ppl from different places. The Walmart person in question is their CEO of operations. They have several ppl now that come from other chain stores. Market Directors and Regional Market Directors are being hired from outside the company. I would have to agree with Mr. Columbus. Fred wouldn’t have let someone from a competitor move that high up. Let alone bring one in at a regional level to start and within 12 months let them be a CEO of Ops…

      • Charles Bolter

        Well, three years left and Meijer is still going strong. Any more or current thoughts about your prediction made about the public thing or them going out of business in 5 years?

  • tcidda

    NOT SURPRISED at all.

  • Shop Small Business. The Mom and Pop stores are putting money into the local schools and the big boxes are taking it out. Shop Local, Eat Local, Stay Local (Consider staying at a Bed & Breakfast the next time you book a room). It all matters.

  • Tracy Donaldson

    Next all these big Stores will do What Burger King did go to Canada to avoid all taxes.This is not fair and needs to be stopped make them Pay just like everyone else.

  • Guest

    Kind of missing the big picture. Those figures aren’t that large on the scale of a business like Meijer. And that’s in comparison to how much additional state/local income from additional corporate and income taxes driven by the expansions? I’m guessing the trade off is net positive, but who can tell with a story on a fraction of the picture…

  • Upset with this article.

    Good for them, anything to keep our kids out of the liberal breeding grounds our public schools have become.

    Furthermore, considering how much this company donates financially to the community, but people want to forget about the good companies such as this do for them and would rather focus on the negative aspects of things. Good news doesn’t make interesting news right? Go go media.

    People seem to forget that Meijers DONATED all the land for GVSU, or what about the $25,000,000 that was offered to the community along with a patch of land to relocate John Ball Park zoo. (Which the community declined, and Fred retracted his offer, but none the less, I don’t see anyone here offering $25,000,000 to public funds.) Hmm, that almost seems to be OVER the ammount the company saved by re-assessing their properties taxes.

    Lets quit focusing on the bad things that companies do, and quit choking them out with over regulation, and make AMERICA the great place it can be, by trusting in PEOPLE agian, and quit resorting to lawyers for every action when we feel offended.

  • Mark Hayward

    Comstock MI General Motors Plant was paying way too high of Property taxes.. Comstock Township would not relinquish,, they closed the whole factory.. it sat idle for a few years .. now it’s an industrial park ..

  • William

    Here is a good example of why shifting our tax system to a sales tax only system makes sense. A sales tax only system has many benefits; one of which is eliminating loop holes and judicial/legislative shiftiness opportunities.

    • Robert Kerr

      William,
      Nobody has made any proposals for “Sales tax only”. There have been bills to swap this or that niche tax for an increase in the sales tax (like the gas tax for 1% increase in sales tax), but NO ONE has proposed droppoing ALL taxes and using just sales tax.

  • Sam Costanza

    Meijer’s is just terrible for everyone. It was also a really terrible place to work.

  • z–man

    The only thing left will be box box stores and trailer parks, while public education stops at the 6th grade..

  • Dave

    If the State were HONEST with their assessments to begin with, no refunds would have been needed. Many Michigan properties – especially Business property, have LIES for assessed values so the State can keep being the greediest entity around.

  • Peter Faber (Greenville)

    May God bless the Meijer family for all they have done for so many other families right here in Michigan. Thank you for serving our community, and contributing back in ways no others have. I am blessed to have experienced a bit of what you give. My wife gave birth to all three of our children in a surgical center made possible by the Meijer family. Thank you; from our (growing) family to yours!

  • Daniel

    Since when did challenging tax assessments become unethical? Close the store and see what happens to the community. Quite a few jobs lost. Let them pay hundreds of thousands of excessive taxes that the government will misspend and Meijer will have to raise their prices. Last I checked Meijer has many community grant programs as well as helps christian charities. No, I do not work for Meijer but ya can’t just rely on one blogger’s rant.

    • If they had closed the store, at least they would have qualified for the tax break they claimed. The store was never “dark” as is explained in this “one blogger’s rant”.

      • Lane Leppink

        Daniel… ….why are you criticizing Meijer? If there was injustice done, why not state who the tax tribunal officials were?….why not work with the legislators and state tax commission on changing their policies and laws?

  • thingscanbbetter

    How is Meijer screwing them? The Local unti agreed to the stipulation

  • Lisa C.

    Did anybody notice

    By Eclectablog on April 1, 2013 in Taxes
    This is a re-posting of an old article, and being in Mid Michigan, I can assure you that this problem did not harm any of our schools or local government.

  • REOjim

    Besides your comment, the last was over 2 years ago. Wonder why it’s been reposted?

  • Chris

    I don’t fault Meijer. I fault the wimps at the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Get a spine and hold Mejer accountable.

  • REM2

    It just sounds like Corporate America to me.

  • Don

    What a joke. This article is as well as most commentators.
    -What the article doesn’t mention is the amount of money In taxes the local government and publics schools receive each year from Meijer. It also doesn’t seem to mention how many employees Meijer supports in those towns.

  • john

    Lets just fix the tax code. Fair tax to all.

    • Lane Leppink

      John: in 1994, we all voted on Proposal A to fix the tax.

  • Kurt Osterhaven

    I love Meijer they save me a lot of money providing more money in my budget to get out of debt so that I can provide a better future for my family. Also, as a supplier of product to their stores, my local business has had immense growth opportunities. That being said, it is ‘big business’ all in or nothing; i.e. purchasing decisions are made with the stroke of a pen and small businesses deal with it as it happens. Just my 2 cents.

  • Marvin Zinn

    I quit shopping at WalMart 13 years ago because of how they treat their employees, and 3 years ago to Meijers for the same reason. I have no objection to paying twice the price for a business with management that really cares more than money. I even volunteer to help good business run right.

  • tcidda

    Hank and Doug care only about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    • youngoldbones .

      My brother knew a man who worked the Michigan trail system, many of which were built with donations from Fred Meijer. This man had many occasions to talk to Fred Meijer, and he told my brother that Fred Meijer said, “I have to donate money while I’m still here, because my sons won’t be doing so.” And according to a DNR trail contact, that’s pretty much the case. Hank and Doug have not continued in support of the trail systems in Michigan.

  • Matt

    Which number is bigger. The tax adjustments or the money stolen from employees from the union? Both take significant money out of a community.

  • Matt

    Walmart is non Union, they pay their employees more.

  • Matt

    The money being stolen from employees every week from the union is higher than the tax adjustments. More money being stolen from us.

  • It’s actually the legal duty of large corporations to maximize profits — greed is the **paradigmatic blueprint** that needs to be examined globally. Otherwise, we humans continue to rape the earth as the gap between the rich and poor not only continues to grow but becomes exaggerated and entrenched for 1,000 years or until we kill our own species off, and guess which one will happen first?

  • April Fools from 2013

    • While this was published April 1, 2013, it is completely true and not an April Fool’s Day joke.

  • madflower

    I wonder if it is -because- the walmart just around the corner, got a whole crapload of tax breaks.

  • Brian Zeller

    Property tax is based on the value of the property. If the value has decreased, the assessed value and taxable value should as well. They were in their legal right to do as such.

  • Tommy Elliott Lfd

    So what its either give them a little tax break or have them close stores and loose jobs. Which one would you want? I say give them a tax break and keep the jobs and business’s open.

    • Oh, please. That store was never going to close. It’s wildly popular and makes a huge profit. This was just free money lying there to take. Like stealing candy from a baby, you might say. Or in this case, money from a school kid.

      • Tommy Elliott Lfd

        I’m just saying its thinking like that and not giving tax breaks is what is hurting this country. If you want a company to stay here and do business sometimes you have to give them a break. And in no way should a company be paying millions of dollars in property taxes.

        • Meijer was never going to leave that location. Your premise is supremely flawed.

  • Brian Holmes

    I worked for the Okemos store from 1985-1998 and I can say it was a pretty shitty place to work most of the time. The managers were mostly aholes and the pay sucked. The only thing that was good was the benefits at that time. Before all those stores started gutting their benefit packages.

  • Guillotine_ready

    To put this in perspective I have heard homeless people say that it would not be worth it to go and work for Meijer Because by the time they got paid they wouldn’t have enough money to improve their situation anyway

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