A branch fell off of a boulevard tree, who should I report it to?
Parks, Recreation & Forestry Dept maintains boulevard trees. You can reach them at 608-789-7533.
Are Municipal violations criminal matters?
No. Municipal Ordinance violations are civil forfeiture actions and are noncriminal in nature.
Assessor's Dates to Remember
January 1: Assessment Date - All property is assessed as it existed on this date
January 31: Full payment of taxes due OR if paying in installments, due date of first tax installment payment (Installment payment option is not available for personal property taxes)
Last day to file personal property returns and file request for property tax exemption.
Month of April:
Assessment change notices are typically mailed during the month of April.
Board of Review:
The Board of Review shall meet annually at any time during the 45-day period beginning on the fourth Monday of April. All meetings of the BOR shall be publicly held and open to all citizens at all times.
Final tax installment payment due date
Can I call your office to discuss my criminal charges pending in La Crosse County Circuit Court?
No. The office of the City Attorney does not deal with criminal matters. If the case is in La Crosse County and you wish to speak to the prosecutor, you can contact the District Attorney’s Office at (608) 785-9604. If you wish to speak to a defense attorney, you can contact the public defender at (608) 785-9531 to determine if you are eligible for their services or call (800) 362-9082 for the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
Can I reschedule my court date?
Yes – in most cases. Initial appearances can be rescheduled by calling the court office, as long as you have not already been convicted. If you are ordered to appear in court because of delinquent payments, your court date cannot be rescheduled.
Can I take a class to get my underage drinking violation dismissed?
No. We are aware that other local courts may do this, we do not.
Can the City Attorney give me legal advice?
No. The City Attorney’s Office represents the City of La Crosse, not private citizens. The office provides legal services to the La Crosse Common Council, the mayor, and the various departments of the City of La Crosse. The City Attorney’s Office cannot give legal advice to private citizens or recommend the names of private attorneys. If you would like legal advice you need to contact a private attorney or call (800) 362-9082 for the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
Do I have to come to court to contest my citation?
Yes. You will enter your plea in front of the judge and then have the opportunity to have a pre-trial conference with the city attorney. In most cases, cases can be resolved that same day. The prosecutor may find it necessary to continue your case or, where a resolution cannot be reached, will set your case for trial at a later date. If you’re not able to appear in court to contest your citation, call the court office for further instructions – an exception may be made, depending on your circumstances.
Do I have to put my carts out for collection if they aren't full?
No. Waiting until the cart is full to place it for collection helps minimize costs.
Do I need a lawyer in Municipal Court?
No, you do not. You are entitled to a lawyer at your own expense, however, you are not required to hire a lawyer and most municipal defendants appear without attorneys.
Do I need to hire an attorney to represent me?
No, it is not necessary to hire an attorney to represent you. If you do chose to hire an attorney, your attorney may represent you at your initial appearance and/or trial. Court staff cannot give legal advice!
Does Municipal Court offer public defenders?
No. Citations handled in Municipal Court are not “criminal” charges, therefore public defenders are not available.
Glossary of Terms
Assessed Value An estimate of value assigned to taxable property by the assessor for purposes of taxation.
Market Value The most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, and knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.
Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:
1. Buyer and seller are typically motivated;
2. Both parties are well informed or well advised, and each acting in what he considers his own best interest:
3. A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market;
4. Payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars of in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and
5. The price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions* granted by anyone associated with the sale.
Reappraisal or Revaluation Placing new values on all taxable property for purposes of a new assessment.
The total assessed value of all taxable property in the city.
The total amount of property tax money that a taxing unit (such as the schools, city, county, etc.) needs to raise to provide services.
The tax levy divided by the tax base. It is often expressed in terms of dollars per hundred or dollars per thousand. The tax rate is multiplied by the assessed value to determine the amount of tax each property owner must pay.
How can I dispose of an appliance or large item that doesn't fit into my cart?
A resident can haul themselves or call any hauler they wish to pick up the items. The disposal fees for large items and appliances for the City's hauler, Harter's Quick Clean-Up, is posted on the City's web page, and is open to the public. See the page titled Large Items for more information.
How can I dispose of electronics or hazardous materials?
Most waste contractors will accept electronics; contact them directly to ask about possible fees. You may also take items to the County Landfills, Hazardous Materials Facility. See here for more information
How can my assessment change when I haven't done anything to my property?
General economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation rates, and changes in the tax laws, will influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the market place, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roll.
How do I appeal my assessment to court?
An appeal to the circuit court must be made within 90 days after adjournment of the Board of Review. The court will then make a decision based solely on the testimony that was presented to the Board of Review. When your case goes before the circuit court, the court will review the record that was created at your Board of Review hearing and make its decision.
How do I appeal my assessment to the Department of Revenue?
Wisconsin law provides for a written appeal of the Board's decision to the Department of Revenue within 20 days after receipt of the decision or within 30 days of the Clerk's affidavit. A $100 filing fee is required. The fair market value of the items or parcels being appealed cannot exceed $1 million. The Department may revalue the property anytime before November 1 of the assessment year or within 60 days after receiving the appeal, whichever is later. If adjusted, the value is substituted for the original value and taxes paid accordingly. Appeal of the Department's decision is to the circuit court
How do I file a claim against the City of La Crosse?
To file a claim against the City, please contact the City Clerk’s Office (608) 789-7510 for a form. Please complete the form and then return it to the City Clerk’s Office.
How do I get a copy of a city ordinance?
You can get a copy of an ordinance by either visiting the Municipal Code on-line and print off the section you are looking for, or you can visit the La Crosse Public Library. The Library keeps a current version of the Municipal Code for patrons.
How do I know if my assessment is fair, and what do I do if I don't agree with it?
You should first attempt to decide for yourself what your property is worth. This can be done by looking at area sales, contacting appraisers, and comparing assessments of similar homes. Assessment information is available in our office and open to the public for review during regular office hours.
If you don't agree with your assessment, come and talk with an assessor. During this informal review you can learn how your assessment was made, what factors were considered, and what type of records we keep about your property.
If after the informal review you feel your assessment is incorrect, your next step is to file an objection with the Board of Review. The property owner must provide the City Clerk with a written notice of intent to file an objection at least 48 hours before the Board's first scheduled meeting. The Board can waive the 48 hour notice requirement if the property owner shows good cause for failing to meet the requirement or provides evidence of extraordinary circumstances. Objections must be in writing and should be filed with the City Clerk within the first two hours of the Board's first scheduled meeting. The Board of Review usually requires an objection to be filed on standard forms which are available either from the City Clerk or the City Assessor's office.
How do I report a pothole?
Call the Street Department, 608-789-7340, to report a pothole. See our webpage for information on potholes.
How do you sue someone because they did not pay me for work that I did?
The City Attorney’s Office is unable to assist in personal matters such as this. If you would like to bring an action against this person, please contact the appropriate county. For actions in the amount of $5,000 or less, contact the Clerk of Circuit Court – Small Claims Division for the appropriate county:
• La Crosse County: (608) 785-9705
• Vernon County: (608) 637-5340
Wisconsin Law requires that property assessments be based on fair market value. Estimating the market value of your property is a matter of determining the price a typical buyer would pay for the property in its present condition.
Some factors the assessor considers are: what similar properties are selling for, what it would cost to replace your property, what rent it may earn, as well as any other factors that affect its value. IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THE ASSESSOR DOES NOT CREATE THIS VALUE, BUT RATHER INTERPRETS WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET.
How will my taxes change as a result of a new assessment?
Though the value of your property affects your share of taxes, the actual amount you pay is determined by the budget needs of the schools, city, county, technical college, and state reforestation. All of these taxing units decide what services they will provide in the coming year and how much money they will need to provide those services. Once this decision is made, a tax rate is adopted that will generate the needed dollars.
I have a medical/physical disability or I'm elderly and I have a hard time managing the city-service carts.
You don't lift the cart; you tip it slightly and roll it. The carts are very stable and roll very easily.
Currently we offer a service known as 'Handicapped, Elderly or Medically Disabled' (HEMD). To qualify for the HEMD service, all adult persons residing at property must:
Be unable to wheel their carts to the collection location.
Have no one else who can assist them, such as a spouse or other live-in family member or personal assistant.
Be certified by a Licensed Physician or Medical Provider as needing assistance.
I want to complain about a business, how do I do that?
To make a complaint about a Wisconsin business, please contact the Consumer Protection office (Wisconsin’s equivalent to a Better Business Bureau) at (800) 422-7128. You can also find more information, as well as an on-line complaint form, at: http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Consumer Complaints/index.aspx
If I have an attorney, can I still talk with the City Attorney’s office?
Generally, no, it is an ethical violation for an attorney to communicate directly with a defendant who is represented by counsel. If you choose to hire a lawyer, the City Attorney’s Office will direct all communication to your counsel.
In the winter, does the City supply salt or sand mix for sidewalks?
The City provides sand mixed with salt for residents to use on City sidewalks. Residents are required to bring their own shovels and containers. See here for site locations.
Is the citation on my record?
The citation and report are kept in the Municipal Court office, and the Police Department. Traffic convictions and underage alcohol violations are also reported to the Wisconsin D.O.T. to be entered on your driving record. We do not publish our records online or to any other media. They are open records. If any person would like the records, they would need to contact our office or the police department directly.
I've been told that everybody's taxes go up after a revaluation. Is this true?
No, it is not. If the total levy remains the same, only those properties which are not presently paying their fair share will pay more taxes after a revaluation. Properties presently paying more than their fair share will pay less.
I've heard the assessors office develops values by computer. Is this correct?
Just as in many other fields, computers are also useful in the assessment process. Assessors are trained to look for associations or relationships between property characteristics and market value. By analyzing these characteristics, and studying sales prices, assessors can begin to predict or estimate value by developing formulas and models.
Computers are much faster and are capable of advanced analysis in this area. But despite these capabilities, common sense and assessor judgment are always required to verify our assessments.
May I take my garbage and recycling carts with me if I move?
No. Carts are assigned by serial # to the address and must stay at the property. If you would like to know what serial numbers are assigned to your property, please call our office, 608-789-7508.
May I use anything other than the carts for garbage or recycling collection?
No. All waste and recyclables must be placed in the carts; any trash outside the cart will not be collected. If you need an extra cart for an event such as moving or spring cleaning, you may contact a contractor of your choosing and contract a cart for a short period of time. If you have an ongoing issue with excess trash or recycling, please contact our office at 608-789-7508.
My garbage and/or recycling cart is missing, what do I do?
My neighbor has a tree that has a branch that overhangs my property and could damage my house. How do I make him/her trim the branch?
If the tree is on private property, the City Attorney’s Office would not be able to assist you with this. You should try to work it out with your neighbor. The City of La Crosse Ordinances that do exist state that the owner of such trees is responsible for ensuring that the trees do not become dangerous or diseased so as to cause damage to a neighbor’s property.
If the tree in question is on public/City property (on the boulevard or other rights-of-way), please contact the City of La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department at (608) 789-7533.
The storm or sewer drain is plugged, who do I call?
If a drain is plugged by debris, such as snow or leaves, contact the La Crosse Utilities, 608-789-7536. They can best direct you to the Stormwater or Sewer Utility.
There is an issue with a manhole or watervalve cover, who do I call?
If a manhole or water valve cover missing, flipped up, or has what looks like a hole forming next to it, contact the La Crosse Utilities, 608-789-7536. They can best direct you to the Water, Stormwater, or Sewer Utility.
To appeal my assessment, what evidence do I need to present to the Board of Review?
Keep in mind that your evidence must be strong enough to prove that the assessor's value is incorrect. STATING THAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE TOO HIGH IS NOT RELEVANT TESTIMONY. You should establish in your own mind what you think your property is worth. The best evidence for this would be a recent sale price of your property. The next best evidence would be recent sales prices of properties that are similar to yours. The closer in proximity and similarity, the better the evidence. Another type of evidence is oral testimony from a witness who has made a recent appraisal of your property.
What do I do with a dead non-domestic animal?
If the animal is on your property, you can dispose of it at the La Crosse County Landfill.
If the animal is deceased and in the roadway, call the Street Department, 608-789-7340. If it is a domestic animal, such as a dog or a cat, please call the Coulee Region Humane Society at 608-781-4014, so they can note it against their reported animals list and get it picked up.
What if there is a street light out in a residential area?
Street lights on wooden poles are the property of Xcel Energy. These are typically found in residential areas and alleys. You can submit the request for service on their website, www.xcelenergy.com or call them at 800-895-4999.
What is the Board of Review? When do they meet?
The Board of Review in the City of La Crosse is comprised of local citizens selected by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. The BOR is not an assessing body, but a quasi-judicial body whose duty it is to hear sworn, oral testimony regarding assessed values. Based only on that testimony, the BOR must decide whether an individual has proven the assessor’s assessment incorrect.
All sessions of the Board are held in the Council Chambers. By statute, the Board of Review shall meet annually at any time during the 45-day period beginning of the fourth Monday of April. If there are not many appeals, the Board will usually complete its business during their first session. Once the Board has heard all appeals and adjourned, no further assessment objections can be considered until the following year. When you receive your tax statement in December, it is too late to file an objection for the current assessment. Paying your taxes under protest does not constitute a formal assessment objection.
What is the distinction between the City Attorney and the District Attorney?
Generally, the District Attorney prosecutes criminal matters under State Statutes. The City Attorney is employed by the City to provide legal advice and guidance on municipal matters and to prosecute Municipal Ordinance violations in the City’s Municipal Court.
What is the role of the assessor?
The assessor is a state certified professional whose duties are to discover, list, and place a value on all taxable real and personal property in the city, in a uniform manner. The assessor is not involved in the collection of the property tax.
What time does my garbage & recycling cart need to be out for collection?
Carts must be placed out by 5 AM on your day of collection and should be returned to the storage location within 24 hours of collection.
What type of advice or counsel can I get from the City Attorney’s Office?
The City Attorney can provide factual information and procedural guidance regarding the handling and disposition of municipal citations. The office cannot, however, provide legal advice on these matters. The City Attorney does provide legal advice regarding other Municipal matters involving the interpretation and enforcement of Municipal Ordinances.
What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of a property will increase the assessed value. The following are typical items that will increase the assessed value of your property:
• Added rooms, garages, porches or decks
• Aluminum or vinyl siding
• Substantial modernization of kitchens or baths
• Central air conditioning
• Extensive remodeling
• Swimming pool
• Basement finish (family room, den, etc.)
When does my citation have to be paid by?
If you are not contesting your citation, please send payment by your court date. If that is not feasible, the court office will hold your citation open for one week past your court date, then find you guilty by default and send you a notice to pay by the due date on the notice (within 60 days.)
When I appeal my assessment, does the Board of Review have the final say?
If you don't agree with the Board of Review decision, the next step is an appeal to either the Wisconsin Department of Revenue or the Circuit Court.
When will the City plow my street or spread salt?
Providing snow and ice control is an enormous task. Variations in weather conditions, time, temperature, precipitation amounts and rates, wind conditions, topography, and traffic conditions make the problem complex. No two storms are alike, yet the task at hand is similar and timing is critical. See our Snow & Ice Control Plan page for details on precipitation type, forecasted amounts, and procedures.
Who can I talk to about trouble with my landlord?
If you have a complaint or concern about the conditions of the property you are renting, please contact the Fire Department — Division of Fire Prevention & Building Safety at (608) 789-7260 or via their department page. The Division of Fire Prevention & Building Safety will review your complaint or concern and may inspect the property and/or commence enforcement action against the property owner if there are violations of the City's ordinances. Until you file a complaint, the City's ability to respond to your concerns may be limited.
Who do I contact if my neighbor hasn't cleared the snow or ice from their sidewalk?
For the safety of our citizens and visitors, the City has an Ordinance that requires snow and ice to be removed from the sidewalk and curb ramps within twenty-four (24) hours after it ceases to fall. The Engineering Department handles inspections for compliance and that may occur anytime throughout the season beginning with the first snowfall. You may contact them at 608-789-7505.
Who is responsible for maintaining alleys in the winter?
The City does not lay salt or salt/sand nor do we plow alleys. It is the responsibility of the property owners abutting the alley to remove any snow, if necessary.
Who supplies garbage and recycling collection for my business or organization?
The property owner is responsible working with their tenants to contract collection for their non-residential locations such as businesses, institutions, special events and construction sites. Contracted service requires both garbage and recycling dumpsters or carts. Recycling is not optional as it is a State Statute found in s. 287.07, Wis. Stats.
If you own a tax parcel that houses both business and residential address(es), then the residential would qualify for city-service collection but the business address would be required to contract privately. Call the Refuse & Recycling Department for more information, 608-789-7508.
Why don't all assessments change at the same rate?
There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods. In one area the sales may indicate a substantial increase in value in a given year. In another neighborhood there may be no change in value, or even a decrease in property values.
Different types of properties within the same neighborhood may also show different value changes. For example, one-story houses may be more in demand than two-story houses, or older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes.
There are numerous factors to be considered in each property which will cause the values to differ. Some of the factors which can affect value are location, age, condition, size, quality, number of baths, basement finish, and garages.
Will I be notified if there is a change in my assessment?
Wisconsin law requires that whenever an assessment is changed, the owner must be notified using the name and address recorded with ownership deeds. Assessment notices are generally mailed in the spring.
Will I be penalized if I don't let the assessor in when an inspection is requested?
When an interior inspection is not allowed, the assessor will attempt to update our records by looking at the property from the outside and using any other available information. To ensure an accurate assessment, it is to your advantage to allow the assessor inside your property when an inspection is requested. By denying an inspection, you may lose the right to appeal your assessment to the Board of Review.
NOTE: While state law allows the BOR to deny a hearing to a property owner who does not allow the assessor to complete an exterior view, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has expressed grave concern about an identically worded statute in Milewski v. Town of Dover, 2017 WI 79, 377 Wis. 2d 38, 899 N.W.2d 303. DOR recommends access to the BOR. The lack of access to view and any evidence offered can be managed as an evidentiary issue at a BOR hearing rather than denying access to the BOR itself.
Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?
Good maintenance will help retain the market value of your property. Generally, your assessment will not be increased for individual minor repairs such as those that follow; however, a combination of several of these items could result in an increased assessment.
• Repairing concrete walks and driveways • Replacing gutters and down spouts • Replacing hot water heater • Repairing or replacing roof • Repairing porches and steps • Repairing original siding • Patching or repairing interior walls/ceilings • Exterior painting • Exterior awnings and shutters • Replacing electrical fixtures • Replacing furnace • Weather stripping, screens, storm windows and doors • Exterior landscaping including lawns, shrubbery, trees, flowers
Will the City collect branches or brush from my property?
Residents are responsible for the disposal of brush from private property. You may either call a hauler of your choosing or bring it yourself to the City's Yardwaste & Brush site. See here for more information.
If the branches are from a city-owned tree on the boulevard, you can call the Parks & Forestry Dept to report it, at 608-789-7533.
Will the City collect yard waste from my property?
Residents who want their yard waste or compostable food waste picked up at the curb or alley should contact Harter's Quick Clean-Up to set up Subscription Service.
Residents can also use Isle La Plume, the city's yard waste drop-off site, from spring through fall for the disposal of yard waste, grass clippings, leaves, compostable food waste and brush. Residents have to bring yard waste materials to the site themselves. There is currently no fee for the use of the yard waste drop-off site.