Publications: Municipal Law


  • Property Owners Who Deny Access to Tax Assessors Are Now Able to Appeal to Board of Review or Circuit Court

    July 7, 2017

    On July 7, 2017, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held in Milewski v. Town of Dover – 2015AP1523 that the denial of the right to appeal a property tax assessment based on the tax payer’s refusal to grant access to the assessor for inspection, violates the tax payer’s due process rights under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. The decision addressed Wisconsin Statutes § 70.47(7)(aa) (denying access to Board of Review) and § 74.37(4)(a) (denying access to Circuit Court) and determined that while the statutes are not unconstitutional on their...



  • Your Property At Risk: U.S. Supreme Court Decision Confirms Importance of Understanding Zoning During Real Estate Acquisitions

    June 28, 2017

    The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires federal, state and local governments to pay “just compensation” any time they “take” private property for public use. On June 23, 2017, in a close 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a Wisconsin zoning ordinance that combined two adjacent lots with common owners into a single lot did not result in a regulatory taking by the county government. As a result of the decision in Murr v. Wisconsin, what were previously two distinct parcels of real property are now a single indivisible lot. The Murr Property and Alleged Taking The two...



  • Knock, Knock…Tips for Managing a Regulatory Inspection

    February 16, 2017

    Many state and federal regulatory agencies, including OSHA, EPA, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, may inspect a business with or without advance notice to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your inspections go smoothly. Before an inspection. As the saying goes, to be prepared is half the victory. Plan for an inspection before it occurs: conduct internal audits of compliance keep relevant documents organized e.g. permits, sampling data, compliance documents keep attorney-created documents separate, marked “privileged” create an inspection plan designate a facility contact and his/her backup identify where relevant records are located identify where...



  • Notice Requirements for Rezoning: What Municipalities and Property Owners Need to Know and Do to Protect Their Rights

    August 24, 2016

    Property Owners Are Not Entitled to Notice of Rezoning Unless They Request it in Writing Under Wisconsin law, municipalities are not required to directly notify the owners of properties subject to rezoning. Generally, public notice (posting and newspaper publication) is sufficient notice under Section 62.23, Wis. Stats. to allow zoning change ordinances to be effective. Municipalities Must Keep a List of Those Who Request Notice Despite the general language of Section 62.23, Wis. Stats., under Section 62.23(7)(d)4, municipalities are required to “maintain a list of persons who submit a written request to receive notice of any proposed rezoning action that affects the allowable...



  • Time-of-Sale Requirements Now Prohibited for Sellers, Buyers, and to Take Occupancy

    April 27, 2016

    The Wisconsin Legislature recently doubled down on its prohibition of municipal time-of-sale requirements. As of July 14, 2015, municipalities could no longer require an owner to make certain improvements and show code compliance before selling a property. As of March 2, 2016, those prohibitions also apply to buyers of real property and to take occupancy of residential property. Under Wis. Stat. § 706.22, created by budget bill 2015 Wisconsin Act 55, a municipality may not restrict an owner’s ability to sell, transfer, or refinance property by requiring the following actions with respect to the property before, at, or immediately after...



  • This Land Is My Land (Now): Wisconsin Modifies Its Adverse Possession Law

    April 7, 2016

    On March 1, 2016, Wisconsin enacted a new statute and repealed and restated another existing statute, both related to the doctrine of adverse possession in the State of Wisconsin. The newly created statute § 893.305, Wisconsin Statutes, creates a mechanism for property owners to delay a potential adverse possessor’s claim by allowing the record title holder to record an “Affidavit of Interruption” with the register of deeds’ office, which will restart the time period that an adverse possessor must continuously meet the requirements of adverse possession.¹ The repealed and recreated statute, Wisconsin Statutes § 893.29, prohibits adverse possession by or...



  • The Shrinking TID May Be Coming

    February 9, 2016

    On January 22, 2016, Senator Petrowski and Representative Spiros introduced 2015 Senate Bill 606 (“SB 606”) amending certain aspects of the law governing tax incremental financing districts (collectively, “TIDs” or singularly, a“TID”). SB 606 provides that an amendment to a TID’s project plan that only subtracts territory from a TID would not count against the current limit of four amendments over the life of the TID. Additionally, an amendment which only subtracts territory from a TID would not be subject to the “12 percent” test which requires the adoption of a resolution finding that the equalized value of the taxable...



  • Wisconsin’s Controlled Highway Access – Property Owners and Developers Beware

    February 9, 2016

    For those who own property abutting a highway or are thinking of developing in such a zone, a recent Supreme Court decision may impact your right to compensation should the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (“DOT”) ever need direct access to a portion of your property. The ability to demonstrate a notable deprivation of the beneficial use of the property will be critical. In an opinion decided on February 4, 2016, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed an unpublished Court of Appeals case which stood for the proposition that the DOT does not have to compensate an owner of property when...



  • Change in Sales and Use Tax Affects Contractors, Municipalities and Nonprofits

    February 4, 2016

    Certain local Wisconsin governmental entities and nonprofit organizations have historically been exempt from payment of sales and use tax. Under a change in Wisconsin law which took effect on January 1, 2016, contractors may purchase construction materials on behalf of certain tax-exempt entities and organizations without paying Wisconsin sales or use tax. In essence, as long as the construction materials are incorporated into a construction project for those tax-exempt entities, the contractor will get the benefit of its client’s tax exemption. Before the change in the law, the contractor would be required to pay sales or use tax on the...



  • Labor & Employment Client Newsletter

    February 24, 2015

    Featured News: Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation Review School Board Policies On Releasing Student Directory Data Event: Davis & Kuelthau's 37th Annual Public Officials Program Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation How well do your employees understand their total compensation beyond their base salary? Many employers are now providing information directly to individual employees with respect to how much the employer contributes toward their health insurance benefits. An employee’s total compensation, though, includes other benefits you provide, such as contributions toward retirement benefits. If you are a public employer participating in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), you may have received questions about what types...



  • Review School Board Policies On Releasing Student Directory Data

    February 23, 2015

    School Choice Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization that supports expanding educational options for parents through the use of school vouchers, recently submitted open records requests to 30 school districts seeking student “directory data.” Initially, the organization wanted students’ names, addresses, phone numbers, grade levels and school of attendance. After hearing school district and parental concerns, the organization modified its request in most cases to include only student addresses. Sec. 118.125(1)(b), Wis. Stats., defines “directory data” as “those pupil records which include the pupil’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and...



  • Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation

    February 23, 2015

    How well do your employees understand their total compensation beyond their base salary? Many employers are now providing information directly to individual employees with respect to how much the employer contributes toward their health insurance benefits. An employee’s total compensation, though, includes other benefits you provide, such as contributions toward retirement benefits. If you are a public employer participating in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), you may have received questions about what types of employee benefits are available through the WRS. Act 10 As a brief background, the WRS is administered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). State law provides...



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