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Court thwarts couple’s attempt to challenge property tax

A state Court of Appeals has dismissed a DePere couple’s lawsuit alleging that the village of Ashwaubenon could not tax their condo because it failed a building inspection.

The suit, originally filed in December 2013, involves a unit owned by Harry and Georgia Hall in the River Creek Condominium development.

The village of Ashwaubenon approved the condo development in 2005, granted a building permit in 2006 and the project was almost complete in May 2007, when the village inspected the project. The unit the Halls later bought for $167,000 failed inspection.

The Halls, who represented themselves in the lawsuit, in 2009 found that the 2007 inspection showed seven code violations, all of which had not been corrected. The village did not issue a certificate of occupancy, which is a document certifying that the condo was built to code and could be occupied.

That, the Halls contend, prevents the city from assessing property taxes on the condo. The Halls also argued, among other things, that the property record card contained errors and that village had illegally made changes to the condo developer’s original proposal.

According to Tuesday’s decision, the Halls appeared at a September 2013 hearing before the village’s board of review to challenge the property tax assessment on the condo, claiming that its value was 1 cent and that no tax should be assessed on the condo. When the challenge failed, they sued in Brown County Circuit Court.

But the Court of Appeals, in Tuesday’s ruling, dismissed the Halls’ complaint because they never completed the proper process for appealing the tax board’s decision. For example, instead of filing a complaint with the village, the Halls went straight to the circuit court with their complaint. That was the same reason the circuit court dismissed their case in 2014.

The Court of Appeals, in its decision, noted that this is the third time since 2008 that the Halls have attempted to challenge the property tax assessment on the condo, which they bought in 2007.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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