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Assessment blunder to be examined by town PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOHN MORTON   
Wednesday, 16 August 2017 18:41

Birchwood Road property owners incorrectly taxed for years for a second house that no longer exists

While the Town of Saukville may not be required to reimburse a property owner who was incorrectly assessed for nearly 10 years, John DeStefanis, the town’s attorney, did ask Town Board members Tuesday “Do we have a moral obligation, a fairness obligation?”
The board took no action but will revisit the issue in September. It’s the result of the town’s assessor failing to note that the property at 3489 Birchwood Rd., which now belongs to Bill and Jenny Gall, no longer had a coach house on it when they bought it. It had been razed by the property’s previous owners in either 2006 or 2007 at the same time an addition was put on the main house, DeStefanis said.
The new owners had no idea about the second structure, which continued to be present in documents and factored into their yearly assessments despite no longer existing.
The difference in taxes paid came to about $118,300 for 2016. The discrepancies involving previous years aren’t being considered by the board.
“According to the information we’ve received, the proper permits were pulled and everyone seemed to know about it (the second structure) but us,” Jenny Gall said Wednesday. “It was probably an oversight. But the assessor has acknowledged the error.”
The Galls caught it earlier in the year during a reassessment but had already missed a Jan. 1 deadline required for a 2016 adjustment. As a result, the town isn’t required by law to act, the town attorney said.
“But I feel it’s appropriate to entertain this claim,” said DeStefanis, who noted the town’s inspector failed to be accurate and that the mistake was “palpable.”
“You’re not required to (reimburse the Galls) but you may,” DeStefanis said.
Supr. Mike Denzien was surprised the discrepancy wasn’t caught at the time of the sale.
“The sale of the property is a re-set,” he said. “Some blame should be on the land owner as well. This should have been discovered at the time of purchase.”
If the town does decide to reimburse the Galls for 2016, it would have to give the couple all $118,300 and then collect repayment from all the other taxing jurisdictions for the balance minus the town’s portion.
Based on a mill rate of about .1% or less, the town would eventually be out about $1,000, DeStefanis said.

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