City hires appraiser due to Lions’ tax appeal

Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — The city and Dearborn have hired an appraiser to determine the value of the Detroit Lions’ training facility.
The two cities share the 23-acre building, with about 4 1/2 acres in Allen Park and almost 19 acres in Dearborn. The facility’s street address, 222 Republic Dive, is in Allen Park.
Allen Park has assessed it for about $3.4 million and Dearborn has assessed it at $16 million. About $35 million was spent to build the facility in 2001 and the assessed value is considered to be about half the selling price.
The facility is appealing its assessment from 2004 to 2008 with the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
“I don’t think this is going to come to any great surprise,” said City Attorney Anthony Guerriero. “The Detroit Lions, like many other property owners in our community and other communities, have appealed their assessment.” Dearborn has 82 percent of the facility for tax purposes and Allen Park has 18 percent.
“Accordingly, we are joined at the hip with the city of Dearborn for the tax appeal,” Guerriero said. “As part of the appeals process we are required to get an appraisal.” Marshall and Stevens Inc. of Chicago has been hired by the cities to determine the value of the property.
Allen Park will pay 18 percent of the estimated $75,000 appraisal, or $13,500, and an additional $1,500 for any additional costs.
“If we have to go out and obtain our own appraisal, separate and apart from the city of Dearborn, it’s going to cost us at least $75,000,” Guerriero said. “So this is essentially a no-brainer.”
He added that he wasn’t exactly sure where the money to fund the appraisal was going to come from initially, but said it ultimately would be taken from the general fund.
Currently, 30 major businesses in the city are appealing their assessments, according to Guerriero.
“It is part of the nature of the beast with this economy and what is happening,” he said. “There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t get a motion to add a new tax shear to the assessment.”
Mayor Gary Burtka said city officials had one of two choices.
“We can either pay the legal fees necessary to sustain our revenues through our tax increases, or we don’t spend them, and when it goes to appeal to Lansing, we are just giving away our tax base,” he said.
Allen Park’s portion of the training facility property brings in over $100,000 a year in taxes.
“To spend $15,000 to protect $100,000 only makes sense,” Guerriero said.