The Village of Kohler said the Blackwolf Run golf course was worth $18,454,910 and wanted property taxes levied on that amount. An expert from the Kohler Company, owner of the golf course, said it was worth $14,400,000.
In steps Circuit Sheboygan County Circuit Judge Timothy Van Akkeren, who said both experts were wrong. Instead, the judge said, the course was worth $12,621,152, less than even Kohler contended.
A District 2 Court of Appeals panel, in an unsigned opinion released last week, upheld Van Akkeren's ruling.
The village had argued in its appeal, among other things, that Van Akkeren ignored its expert's opinion and drew his own conclusions, but the appeals panel said, "it is well known that a fact finder is not bound by an expert’s opinion."
Kohler Co. will get a property tax refund of $605,908.51 plus interest.
This is not the first time Van Akkeren has help Kohler and its golf ventures. In 2010, he rejected challenges to plans by Kohler and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to build a Sheboygan County interchange to be used for roughly one week every five years to serve traffic going to big tournaments at Whistling Straits, a Kohler facility.
The appeals panel in the tax case included Judges Lisa S. Neubauer, Paul F. Reilly, and Brian K. Hagedorn.
And here is the roundup of the week's appeals court cases from around the state.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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