GRAND FORKS - Grand Forks city leaders have recommended against giving Menards a tax refund after the home improvement company said North Dakota cities overassessed its property values in 2016.

The Grand Forks City Council Committee of the Whole on Monday, Nov. 27, unanimously voted against the request to trim 20 percent off Menards’ 2016 property values for its store in the city. The Wisconsin-based company, with locations across the western U.S., requested Grand Forks County reduce its roughly $14.3 million property value from 2016 to $11,472,000.

Menards is applying for abatements on properties it owns all over North Dakota, according to Paradigm Tax Group consultant Lane Thor, who is managing Menards’ requests in North Dakota and Minnesota.

“For example, most of the stores in Minnesota are OK,” Thor said Monday. “Most of the stores in Wisconsin are relatively fine, meaning the assessments are not as far apart from what we think the stores should be valued at. The big spread seems to be in North Dakota.”

Director of Tax Equalization for the County Amber Gudajtes confirmed Menards already has paid its property taxes for 2016. If the company is successful in its request, it would receive a refund for what it already has paid.

“We apply for abatements when there’s an over-assessment of real property and we feel the sales data indicates a lower value, and we feel the cost approach also indicates a lower value,” Thor said.

Grand Forks City Assessor Paul Houdek, whose department determined in 2016 the Menards property had a total value of $14,340,700, advised the council against approving the request Monday night. He received and reviewed the Menards application after Paradigm submitted it on Nov. 1, the deadline for property owners to request any changes to 2016 values.

“They knew that was the last date they could apply for 2016, so that’s what they did,” Houdek said. “A year ago, they applied for 2015 with this same list (of sales). It was virtually the same list, with a few minor changes.”

Houdek said Paradigm had failed to consider the size of the Grand Forks location, its environment and when sales on the list had been conducted.