Lakefront property taxpayers lose appeal for higher refunds
DELAVAN TOWNSHIP -- Lakefront property owners in the town of Delavan will have excessive taxes refunded, but not by as much as they wanted, an appeals court has ruled.
A dispute over fees to be reimbursed for expert testimony in the case was sent back to lower court.
The decision released Wednesday by a Wisconsin Appeals Court rules on an earlier decision by Walworth County Circuit Court Judge James Carlson.
More than 50 Delavan lakefront owners sued the town of Delavan over assessments and taxes paid in 2009 and 2010.
Following a four-day trial, Carlson determined that, with few exceptions, the taxpayers' assessments were not based upon their properties' fair market values and were excessive, according to the court decision.
The circuit court also found that the town assessed properties in the nearby Assembly Park neighborhood at 45 percent below their fair market values, according to the court decision.
Carlson's ruling declined to award the taxpayers refunds based on assessments 45 percent below market value, and instead based the refund on the amount that they would have paid in property taxes for 2009 and 2010 if the Assembly Park properties had been properly assessed.
The court adopted the fair market values for the taxpayers' properties presented by their appraisal expert in calculating their refund for excessive assessments.
The taxpayers, however, wanted the additional refund amount and appealed.
This week's appeals court ruling affirmed Carlson's remedy for the refund and declined to award refunds based on assessments 45 percent below market value.
The court also gave taxpayers an additional three-percent refund for the violating the state constitution's uniformity clause, which requires properties to be assessed uniformly.