Maine: Walmart appeals to state for massive tax breaks for Thomaston store(?)

BY STEPHEN BETTS, COURIER GAZETTE

Walmart is seeking to have the tax assessment on its Thomaston store for 2018-2019 reduced from $15,464,000 to $7.4 million. This would cut its tax bill by $168,780. A similar request for its 2018-2019 assessment has also been sought by Walmart.

Walmart is seeking to have the tax assessment on its Thomaston store for 2018-2019 reduced from $15,464,000 to $7.4 million. This would cut its tax bill by $168,780. A similar request for its 2018-2019 assessment has also been sought by Walmart. Stephen Betts/Courier Gazette

THOMASTON — Walmart has appealed to the state to get property tax breaks for the past two years totaling nearly $340,000 from Thomaston.

The Thomaston Board of Assessors voted in the spring to reject the request of the international retail giant to cut its property valuation by nearly half. Walmart then appealed to the state.

Thomaston Assessor’s Agent David Martucci said Oct. 31 that a hearing has yet to be scheduled by the Maine Board of Property Tax Review. The town and Walmart participated in state-required mediation but Martucci said no agreement was reached.

Any decision of the state board can be appealed to state court.

Walmart is the town’s second-highest property taxpayer.

The Thomaston Walmart store opened in October 2013, relocating from Rockland.

The 2019-2020 assessment on Walmart’s store and land in Thomaston totals $15.5 million with a tax bill of $392,000.

Cement manufacturer Dragon Products is the top taxpayer in town with a bill for 2018-2019 of $1,646,080.

Walmart is seeking to have its assessment for 2018-2019 reduced from $15,464,000 to $7.4 million. This would cut its tax bill by $168,780. A similar request for its 2018-2019 assessment has also been sought by Walmart.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy issued a report on Thursday, Oct. 31 on how big-box stores are trying to get tax breaks in the state. The report stated that large retailers are” ramping up their challenges of local assessments in an effort to secure tax cuts”

The report lists Walmart, Lowe’s, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, and BJ’s, stating they have requested $184 million in valuation reductions since 2015.

“Across the country, the large retailers that own big-box stores have used this dubious legal theory to challenge local assessments, arguing they should be taxed as if their properties were shuttered and vacant ‘dark stores’ — even while they’re open for business and raking in revenue,” said Sarah Austin, MECEP policy analyst and the report’s author. “It’s an effort by major corporations to manipulate the tax code so they pay less, leaving towns and other property taxpayers holding the bill.”

The Board of Assessors signed a settlement agreement in April 2017 with Lowe’s Home Centers LLC that ended that retailer’s abatement requests, but also lowered the company’s tax assessment for its Thomaston property from $15.6 million to $14,352,000 for three years.

The Cost of Living: Why US Prescription Drug Prices Are so High

Fault Lines investigates what’s behind the skyrocketing price of prescription medication in the US and the human cost.

In the United States, many people have to choose between financial insecurity or saving their own lives.
The cost of nearly every major brand name drug is on the rise and as a result, millions of Americans are having trouble paying for their prescription medication.

This includes Type 1 diabetics, for whom insulin is a life-saving drug.

“For somebody like me, it’s like the oxygen you breathe. It is like the oxygen you and I breathe, except for me, I have to pay $340 a vial for that oxygen,” says Quinn Nystrom, from T1International, a global advocacy organisation for diabetics. Nystrom is one of at least 1.2 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease that has no cure.

Between 2012 and 2016 alone, the price of insulin nearly doubled, forcing many Americans to search for other routes to access it.

We follow a caravan of Type 1 diabetics as they cross the border into Canada, where insulin is about one-tenth of the cost of the drug in the US.

“It’s not just a bunch of people whining and crying about the price of insulin. There is a true impact,” says Nicole Smith-Holt, whose son died less than a month after ageing off her health insurance, because, she believes, he could not afford to pay for his insulin and started rationing the drug. “My family was destroyed by this. I lost my child. I will never have my son back … Ultimately, the system failed Alec.”

We made multiple interview requests to the top three insulin manufacturers, but none of them agreed to an interview. Sanofi sent a statement and included a congressional testimony by its External Affairs Executive Vice president.

We also meet Jackie Trapp who has a rare form of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma, which doesn’t respond to traditional cancer treatments. Instead, she has to take a speciality drug to keep her cancer stable. Despite having insurance and taking advantage of multiple assistance programmes this vital drug costs her between $15,000 and $22,000 a year.

“Drugs don’t work if we can’t afford to take them,” Trapp says.

Fault Lines investigates what’s behind the skyrocketing costs of prescription medication, and how the hefty price tag is costing lives.

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/2019/10/cost-living-prescription-drug-prices-high-191026213524232.html

 

Joe Biden: “Show me the money!!” Biden’s Campaign Reverses Opposition to Super PACs

Joe Biden’s Campaign Reverses Opposition to Super PACs

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Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Thursday reversed a pledge not to accept the help of Super PACs. A Biden campaign spokesperson said the move was necessary to counter a barrage of attack ads from President Trump. A spokesperson for Bernie Sanders’s campaign — which opposes Super PACs — slammed Biden’s move, saying: “Joe Biden has spent his campaign promising elite donors that nothing will fundamentally change for them, and he has made clear to fossil fuel and pharmaceutical donors that he will be their ally.”

As Comcast Lobbyist Hosts Biden’s First Fundraiser, Campaign Boasts of Support from “Top 1%”

APR 26, 2019

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In other campaign news, Biden marked his first day on the campaign trail by attending a $2,800-per-person fundraiser in Philadelphia at the home of Comcast’s top lobbyist, David Cohen. Attendees included Daniel Hilferty, chief executive of Independence Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in the Philadelphia area. Senator Bernie Sanders criticized Biden for holding a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who co-hosted the Biden fundraiser, appeared on CNN this morning, and said the fundraiser attracted the top 1%.

Ed Rendell: “For 90% of the people who attended last night’s fundraiser, they’re contributing against their own financial interest. They will do better with a Republican president, because they’re in the top 1%. So they’ll do better with a Republican president. It will probably cost them money if Joe Biden wins, because I think he’ll bring some sense to the tax cut and he’ll probably raise rates on the top 1%. So, all these people gave money even though it was against their own financial interest.”

You Are Stealing Our Future: Greta Thunberg, 15, Condemns the World’s Inaction on Climate Change

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Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the U.N. plenary last night in Katowice, Poland, condemning global inaction in the face of catastrophic climate change.