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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Kmart is engaging in a "blitz of legal filings," accusing almost 500 towns, cities and counties of overcharging it in property taxes.

Essentially, the WSJ reports, Kmart is using the bankruptcy court that oversaw its reorganization in 2002 to try and get governments to reduce their property tax claims for payments not made during the bankruptcy. "It has had the bankruptcy court issue hundreds of summonses in recent months and demanded swift responses from many small jurisdictions that often lack the funds or expertise to defend themselves in the Chicago proceedings," the paper reports.

The move comes at some risk, since the troubled retailer could end up irritating the very consumers that it is seeking to lure back into its stores.

The WSJ writes: "Kmart's lawsuit, which covers 2001 and 2002 and the inventory and other items contained inside much of its national empire of stores and warehouses, seeks a total of only $8.6 million. That's just a little more than the $8 million in 'retention loans' Kmart made to Chief Executive Charles C. Conaway and President Mark S. Schwartz, in the year before it filed for Chapter 11. Both were ousted as Kmart filed for reorganization in January 2002. (Company creditors are trying to get that money back, too.)"
KC's View:
Suggestion to Kmart: Pay your damned bills. Or you may find that towns, cities and counties will stop filling potholes, stop fixing broken traffic lights, and stop providing some of the services that you require to keep operating.

The WSJ notes that many of these places need the property taxes to fund already strapped school districts. Kmart is on the wrong side of this argument, and it should knock it off. Now.