Rockland council OKs deal to cut Ocean State's tax assessment

By Stephen Betts | Nov 14, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts Ocean State Job Lot's property at 265 Camden St. in Rockland.

Rockland — Ocean State Job Lot will see its property tax assessment slashed by $1.5 million under an agreement between the New England retail company and city officials.

The Rockland City Council voted unanimously at its Nov. 13 meeting to approve the agreement.

The city will have to repay Ocean State $100,187 for property taxes it has paid over the past few years since its appeal began.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the city's attorneys advised the city to reach the agreement because of the uncertainty of what would occur if the matter reached the Maine Board of Property Tax Review.

Luttrell had also said if the city had lost the appeal before the state, the assessment not only could have been lower, but the city could have been liable for Ocean State's legal fees.

Councilor Valli Geiger said it should not be legal to allow Walmart to limit its competition when it sells property and thus make properties less valuable. Walmart sold the property to Ocean State in 2013.

Those restrictions — which run until December 2038 — prohibit the property from being used for a supermarket larger than 35,000 square feet, a discount store of more than 50,000 square feet, a discount pharmacy, gambling operations, adult entertainment activities including the sale of sexually explicit videos or books, massage parlors or escort services.

Under the agreement, the assessment on Ocean State's 94,000-square-foot commercial building located on 10.5 acres along Route 1 at the Rockport town line will be assessed at $4,385,200.

This is down from the current assessment of $5,906,500 for the 265 Camden St. location.

Ocean State had sought to have its assessment reduced to $3,125,000, which is what the company paid Walmart in December for the property.

Ocean State had filed a request in January 2015 for a property tax abatement from its 2014 assessment, claiming the actual value of its Camden Street commercial site was only about half what Rockland has it assessed at. The company has filed appeals of subsequent year assessments as well.

Assessor Dennis Reed rejected Ocean State's request. The company appealed to the Rockland Board of Assessment Review, which also rejected the request. Ocean State then filed an appeal to the Maine Board of Property Tax Review.

The state board had been scheduled to hear the appeal Oct. 26 and 27, but that was postponed to allow the city and Ocean State time to try to reach an agreement.

Ocean State Job Lot opened its Rockland store in March 2014.

The retail store occupies 40,000 square feet of the building and leases 10,000 square feet to Dollar Tree store, which opened in the summer of 2015. The company also received a permit this month from the city to renovate vacant space between Ocean State and the Dollar Tree Store for a Harbor Freight Tools store to move into the space.

The Rockland City Council held closed-door executive sessions Oct. 2 and Oct. 11 on the assessment issue.

Comments (4)
Posted by: CHRIS & CINDY MUDGETT | Nov 14, 2017 16:08

Goodwill executives make more than most people know. They pay a very small percentage to the disabled. Dale your right but people choose to look the other way.


Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 12, 2017 15:58

Ken: I would like you to prove to me that goodwill does any more for people in Rockland than any other employer and why when they compete for retail dollars they should be given tax exempt status. Look at the pay of their executives and the fact they have special permission from the US Department of Labor to pay their disabled workers less than minimum wage. I see disabled employees at many businesses. Check their tax returns at "IRS FORM 990 GOODWILL INDUSTRIES". You will learn a lot. They make millions in profits and have millions in assets. Enjoy.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Nov 11, 2017 17:16

Good will is not "getting away" with anything. Goodwill is a non-profit agency that uses revenue for its programs for disabled individuals.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 09, 2017 15:04

Now get Goodwill to pay anything for taxes. They get away with none at all.

If you wish to comment, please login.