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Taxing decisions for condo developments

By Chris Thompson

The Wisconsin Supreme Court went 2-for-3 Friday in ruling on taxing vacant lots approved for condo developments.

The court confirmed municipalities can tax the properties and that the developers that own those vacant lots should pay the taxes. Logic supports both decisions, though the town of Pacific developer, Saddle Ridge Corp., likely does not.

But the court chose not to take a swing at the question of whether a property’s value rises as soon as a municipality approves construction of condominiums. The value should not go up until a condo goes up.

It makes sense that a developer pay what is essentially a holder’s fee for a piece of property until someone buys a condo and prompts construction. But why penalize that developer with higher taxes?

Property taxes pay for shared municipal services — police, fire, garbage, street maintenance, etc. What additional municipal services are needed after a municipality approves condo development but before the project starts?

Saddle Ridge should pay for its property in Pacific. But the developer shouldn’t pay more.

Chris Thompson is the editor at The Daily Reporter. For all your tax needs, he can be reached at (414) 225-1818.

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