Think your tax bill's bad?

Corporate landowners, led by Kohl's, help offset residents' obligations

Jan. 31, 2012

Menomonee Falls - State mandates, cuts and bargaining changes will keep tax bills for most Wisconsin residents from going through the roof this year. As local tax bills go out and federal taxes come due, NOW wanted to know which companies were paying critical portions of Menomonee Falls' tax revenue.

It should come as no surprise that Kohl's Corporate Offices handle by far the largest tax burden of any entity in the village. The retail giant paid more than $1.7 million on its 2010 bill for taxes that funded 2011's operations.

You'd need to add the next three largest taxpayers just to cover that same amount when it comes to filling village coffers. In fact, Kohl's is the seventh largest taxpayer in all of Waukesha County, with an equalized value ahead of other commercial behemoths like General Electric Medical Systems and Quad/Graphics.

Having corporate headquarters for Kohl's, a Harley-Davidson facility and others can stir interest from other major private-sector players.

"When we tell our story that we're the third largest manufacturing tax base in the state and that we have 45,000 primary jobs in the community of 36,000," explains Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald, "it's pretty much an eye-opener. We are clearly not a bedroom community. We don't act like one. We don't function like one."

More than just cash cows

Keeping Kohl's remains a focus for the village particularly given its stature as a revenue source for the village. On the other hand, even these top 10 companies only account for about 7 percent of the entire village tax base, said Village Planner and Economic Development Specialist Matt Dorner.

In other words, losing a corporate giant wouldn't be an impossible obstacle to overcome. However, Fitzgerald said Menomonee Falls views these corporations as more than just cash cows.

"What we view as significant is not just property tax long-term, but the employment, the corporate things they do in partnership with the community and the roles their employees also play in the community."

Like every community, Menomonee Falls has tax-exempt entities like churches, schools and hospitals, all of which sit on land that may otherwise be desired by commercial enterprises.

Falls officials, however, don't see the village as being hamstrung from an economic development standpoint. "We don't have anything on the extreme. I think we're relatively in balance," Fitzgerald insisted.

"Having said that, we consider having a regional hospital in our community a major benefit."

Attractive to businesses

Dorner said not only the hospital, but all of the companies on the top 10 list like Harley-Davidson and Waste Management offer examples of successful corporate ventures in the village.

"If (companies) are doing their due diligence, that's definitely something they should be looking at. Why are these businesses in a variety of sectors, locating in these areas?" Dorner asked rhetorically.

"I think, as a package, those things all play strongly for the village."

Top 10 Menomonee Falls taxpayers

Rank Taxpayer Valuation 2010 Taxes Address
    (in millions)
(paid in 2011)
1 Kohl's Department stores $92.04 $1,728,470 N56 W17000 Ridgewood Drive    
2 Woodland Prime LLC $40.69 $764,164 Flint Drive & Leatherwood Court
3 Harley-Davidson $32.23 $605,371 W156 N9000 Pilgrim Road
4 NHMC Land LLC $21.16 $397,456 W129 N7055 Northfield Drive
5 Wells Fargo Financial $19.17 $359,932 100 Heritage Reserve
6 CenterPoint Properties Trust $19.21 $360,824 **Various locations
7 Waste Management $18.42 $345,843 W124 N9355 Boundary Road
8 Arandell Corp $17.68 $331,957 N82 W13118 Leon Road
9 Burke Business Park $16.95 $318,227 Vacant sites in the Westbrook Corporate Park
10 Falls Medical Building $15.63 $293,576 N84 W16889 Menomonee Ave.


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