Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 19:54
Exchange of letters reflects ongoing disagreement with county over $230 charge for settlement check
Town of Fredonia officials don’t intend to pursue their dispute with Ozaukee County over a reportedly late tax payment in the circuit court system, but they haven’t reached an amicable settlement with the county, either.
Town Chairman Rich Mueller and Ozaukee County Corporation Counsel Rhonda Gorden have exchanged correspondence about the January payment of the county’s share of property taxes from the town.
The town owed the county $233,640 in the property taxes it collected from local landowners, and approved that payment at the Jan. 14 Town Board meeting and the check was dropped off at the post office the following morning.
When the county reported it did not receive that payment by its Jan. 15 due date, the county contacted town officials and a second check was issued.
In addition, the town was charged $230 by the county for the late payment.
The town countered that bill with their own assessment of what was owed the county — deducting all related expenses from what it calculated as $76.81 in one day of lost interest income from the tax payment. By the town’s accounting, it owes the county $11.31 — and forwarded that payment to the county treasurer’s office, in addition to the full tax payment due.
That touched off a back-and-forth exchange between the two governmental bodies.
Gorden sent a letter saying the Wisconsin Department of Administration confirms the county’s stand that tax payments must be in hand on or before the statutory deadline.
She said counties are held by that “on or before” standard for payments made to the state.
“We see no distinction in the statute for municipalities making settlement payments to the county,” Gorden wrote.
She said the late payment charge was mandatory and does not allow for the deduction of expenses by the town.
Gorden asked that the town issue another check with the $219.13 balance due from the initial late payment.
Mueller countered that the attachment included with Gorden’s letter made reference to the county’s March tax settlement payment and not the February payment.
“There appears to be no specific statute defining the details of the January or February settlement dates,” he wrote.
“Therefore they are open to the generally accepted and normal business practice of using the postmark date for due date transactions.”
At a recent Town Board meeting Mueller said when the county returned the original tax payment check, it did not include the envelope with the dated postmark stamp.
“Unless there is some indication that the town payment was not postmarked on Jan. 15, the town retracts our offer of one day of interest less costs,” Mueller wrote.
“But rather than charge the county for the unnecessary cost incurred and to settle this matter, the town will accept a retraction of the county invoice, a voiding of the town’s check for $11.31 and consider the matter settled.”
Despite that assertive stance, discussion at the board meeting indicated the town may ultimately relent.
“It seems like they’d like to run it all the way to the Supreme Court, but for $230 it isn’t worth it,” Mueller said.
At the time the last letter was crafted, he told supervisors the town hadn’t spent any money on lawyers in the matter.