Brown Co. Sales Tax Suit Dismissed, But Case May Not Be Over

Attorneys representing the Brown County Taxpayers Association say they are reviewing their options with their clients after a judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against the county’s half-percent sales tax. The tax as approved by the Brown County Board last year is to last six years and help pay for a number of projects, including a new county expo-center. But the BCTA, represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) sued claiming the tax won’t reduce the property tax levy, as required by law.

On Thursday, Brown County Judge William Atkinson dismissed the suit over a procedural matter; agreeing with the county’s argument that a required notice of claim was not issued. But Atkinson left room in the ruling for the case to proceed:

The County argues that Plaintiffs’ suit is barred because they did not notify the County of
their claim within 120 days of May 17, 2017, the day on which the Ordinance was enacted.
Plaintiffs argue that the 120-day time period did not begin to run until the tax went into effect on
January 1, 2018, or, if not then, when the budget was adopted on November 7, 2017 at the earliest.
If the 120-day clock began in May, it has long since expired; if it began on November 7, 2017, it
does not expire until March 7, 2018…

…Plaintiffs also point out that, until the budget was formally adopted, the County Board
could have decided to use the tax proceeds for the reduction of the tax levy rather than for new
expenses, thus negating the need for a potential lawsuit from Plaintiffs. The Court is therefore
satisfied that the 120-day time period in which Plaintiffs must provide notice to Brown County
began when the 2018 Annual Budget for Brown County was signed by County Executive
Streckenbach on November 7, 2018. Plaintiffs therefore have until March 7, 2018, to provide
Brown County with written notice of their claims pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes section 893.80

WILL attorney Tom Kamenick told Media Trackers in an email Friday that, “We’re reviewing our options with our clients.”