Assessment Bill May See Movement

The League stands with the Wisconsin Towns Association and the Wisconsin Association of Assessing Officers in continuing to oppose AB 610, a bill prohibiting certain property tax assessment practices, even if it is amended as most recently proposed by a new substitute amendment. The bill is currently in the Senate Housing, Commerce, and Trade Committee and could be voted on soon.
The impact of the amendment would be to: (a) disallow the use of list or asking prices, or list or asking rents, to determine fair market value and (b) to codify in statute that statutes are controlling over the DOR Assessment Manual. Clearly, statutes already prevail over the manual. This part of the bill is unnecessary.
Removing the ability to use list or asking price or rent would be challenging for assessors especially in light of short-term trends. Beyond taking away one piece of viable evidence of value from the assessor’s perspective, this provision also creates an issue for commercial property owners who would like to use list or asking price/rent as evidence of value when trending downward. Commercial office space may be a market segment that soon could be in this position. If a trend downwards is realized due to the pandemic and commercial property is devalued as a result, the impact will be felt by other classes of property tax payers, including individual homeowners.

ACTION: It's easy to contact your legislators to let them know that AB 610 in any form is bad for fair assessments in Wisconsin using the League's "Take Action" page on our website. Click through to the alert. (Note - if the buttons at the bottom cover the page, please refresh the page to clear the formatting and click through again. We are working on a fix.)

Land Use Bill

One of the League's proactive goals for this session has been to close a loophole in the incorporation process allowing entire towns that would not be able to meet the incorporation standards to nevertheless incorporate using a two-step process. Under the loophole, a part of a town able to meet the incorporation standards incorporates into a village and then the new village immediately adds the remaining town remnant via annexation or boundary agreement. The process blocks surrounding municipalities from future growth opportunities. Closing this loophole has been a League goal for several sessions, but legislators were unwilling to introduce our bill for fear of angering town officials and property owners. 

This session, we teamed up with the Towns Association on a compromise land use bill, SB 835, that includes closing the incorporation loophole. The changes the Towns seek are minor and mainly designed to eliminate strategies or aggressive actions cities and villages have not generally pursued but could take in the future. As part of our negotiations with the Towns, we also asked that the compromise package eliminate the provision in current law prohibiting municipalities from annexing across county lines. SB 835 is being heard Wednesday, January 19th in the Senate Transportation and Local Government Committee. This is a League initiated bill and a priority for the remainder of this legislative session.
League Bill Nears Final Hurdle

Last week, the Senate Financial Institutions and Revenue Committee held a hearing and voted on SB 396, the League initiated bill related to calculating and refunding interest to a taxpayer who successfully files a claim to recover an unlawful property tax. SB 396 is now available for scheduling on the Senate floor! Even though the bill already passed the Assembly, it will require concurrence in that house again due to a technical amendment changing the effective date. After that procedural step, the bill will head to the Governor's desk. This bill is a League priority for the end of session.

PACE Legislation

PACE is an innovative program that enables property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements. Wisconsin's commercial PACE projects can generate positive cash flow upon completion with no up-front, out-of-pocket cost to property owners, eliminating the financial barriers that typically prevent investment in revitalizing aging properties. SB 692/AB 719 streamlines programmatic elements and expands the type of projects that qualify for PACE financing to include storm water management and electric vehicle charging infrastructure among other additions. AB 719 had an Assembly hearing last week and will be voted on in committee on Tuesday. See the League testimony for additional details on the bill. SB 692 will also see action Tuesday, as the Senate committee hears the bill. The League worked on this bill with the authors and we are happy to see it moving through the process.

ICYMI - ARPA Final Rule Released

Treasury releasing the long anticipated ARPA Final Rule. The final rule is meant to deliver broader flexibility and greater simplicity for communities during this recovery period. While the final rule does not go into effect until April 1, 2022, Treasury is allowing municipalities to utilize the flexibility included in the final rule immediately.  


The League will continue to bring you updates on the final rule. For more information see Treasury's overview of the final rule and bookmark the League's ARPA webpage.