Walmart is planning to open a new $50 million store in Tinley Park, Ill., a suburb southwest of Chicago. Mayor Ed Zabrocki said the big-box retailer would receive about $3 million in rebates from sales taxes, waived fees and, according to the Chicago Tribune, Tinley Park would act as the middle man in acquiring the land.
But Walmart wants more. The new store will create about 350 jobs, at an average hourly wage of $12.80, and generate roughly $10 million in property taxes over its first decade. The monolith wants $4.4 million of the property taxes that would go toward two nearby school districts and the Frankfort Park Square District. The three districts, which aren’t in Tinley Park proper but will feel the effects of development, still have to agree to the tax abatements.
This isn’t a new tactic from Walmart. Good Jobs First created an entire website devoted solely to Walmart subsidies in 2007. At the time, the retailer had received more than $1.2 billion in public money, ranging from tax breaks to free land to grants from state and local governments.
Good Jobs First’s subsidy tracker — not to be confused with the separate Walmart Subsidy Watch — chronicles a trove of handouts across the country. Walmart has received subsidies as large as $4.9 million for tax increment financing and as small as $217 for training reimbursement.
It’s tricky to figure out exactly how many subsidies Walmart has received over the years, for a couple of reasons. The subsidy tracker only lists deals from official disclosure sources, which are released in irregular intervals. Subsidies that surface in the papers, like the Tinley Park deal, aren’t there. You also have to search for the various ways Walmart is spelled: Walmart, Wal Mart, Wal-Mart and so on. It’s an inexact science. But the fact remains, as the 2007 report showed, that Walmart gets a lot of handouts from taxpayers.
Meanwhile, last week in Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed a bill that mandated a higher minimum wage for big-box stores in spaces larger than 75,000 square feet. Walmart threatened to not build three of six planned stores in the District if the bill had passed.
In a cruel twist, the Tinley Park Sam’s Club — which pays its 182 workers an average wage of $14.30 an hour — is relocating to the new 83-acre Walmart site, according to the Tribune. It won’t receive any incentives.
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Bill Bradley is a writer and reporter living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Deadspin, GQ, and Vanity Fair, among others.