According to newly released data, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, also was the top single payer of real estate property taxes in all of Douglas County in 2009.
The Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust paid $624,956 in real estate property taxes in 2009. For the last two years, Walmart had been the second largest property taxpayer in the county, but the company’s new store at Sixth and Wakarusa pushed the retailer into the top spot.
As the books are closed on 2009, all types of tax tidbits are emerging. Here’s a look:
Top 10 tax-producing properties in 2009
- The Pine Ridge Plaza shopping center on South Iowa Street, which houses Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market and Michael’s: $428,003.
- Walmart’s 33rd and Iowa store: $384,135.
- The former — and now vacant — Serologicals bioscience manufacturing facility in the East Hills Business Park: $335,817. The company received a tax abatement for the project, but now pays the full property taxes on the building because it no longer is providing jobs in the city.
- The Kmart distribution center in northern Lawrence: $347,503.
- The Lawrence Medical Plaza and Surgical Center at Sixth and Maine streets: $277,494.
- The SuperTarget store on South Iowa Street: $265,605.
- The Sauer-Danfoss manufacturing plant in East Hills Business Park: $264,061. The plant is being shut down.
- Legends Place apartment complex: $261,646.
- Walmart’s Sixth and Wakarusa store: $240,821.
- Colony Woods apartment complex: $233,947.
Note: Some large developments — think Meadowbrook Apartments or the ICL plant in North Lawrence — don’t show up on the top 10 list because they are split into multiple parcels for ownership purposes. Westar’s power plant north of Lawrence does not show up because it is valued by state assessors, not the county appraiser’s office.
$1,317.28 per person
In per capita terms, which of course are not how property taxes are assessed, Douglas County governments collected $1,317.28 per person in 2009. That’s down slightly from 2008, when it was $1,317.42. But that’s up from $944.64 per person in 2003.
$119.2 million total (growth rate far below average)
The total amount of property taxes collected in Douglas County — for all governments, ranging from cities to cemetery boards — was $119.2 million compared with $118.3 million in 2008. That’s a growth rate of 0.7 percent, which is way below the historical average.
How far below? Since 2003, property tax collections have grown from $79.02 million to $119.2 million. That’s a growth rate of 50.8 percent, or about 8.5 percent per year.
Residential vs. commercial
In 2009, residential property taxes accounted for 68 percent of all property taxes paid. Commercial property taxes accounted for 26 percent. Economic development leaders have made boosting the county’s commercial tax base a priority. Thus far, results have been slow. In 2003, the commercial tax base accounted for 26 percent of the total. It reached a recent high of 27 percent in 2005.
Equipment law has hurt county
Changes in state law on how business equipment is taxed have hurt the county’s coffers. In 2009, the 10 largest payers of property tax for business equipment paid $17.92 million in taxes. In 2003, which was prior to when the state started exempting new business equipment purchases from taxation, the top 10 paid $24.56 million.