Tax Roll Process (Utilities)

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Wisconsin State Statute § 66.0809 requires municipalities to place delinquent water bills on the tax roll as a special charge against the property that was furnished with utility service. Link to Statute.

The ability to collect for unpaid utility bills through the property tax roll generally has worked to keep the amount of municipal uncollectible debt to a minimum. This limits losses caused by unpaid utility bills and protects other utility customers from rate increases.

The statute also required utilities to notify landlords of tenant delinquencies if the landlord requested notification in writing. In La Crosse, this notice must be provided to the Utility by having the landlord and tenant complete the Landlord-Tenant Agreement (Link to Agreement Tina will provide) when the tenant moves in. Notice was required in order to provide landlords with an opportunity to either pay the bill or collect the arrearage from the tenant before the municipality transfers the delinquent amount to the landlord’s property tax bill. As of 2015, if the landlord/property owner pays the amount of arrears due by the tenant, the landlord has the ability to request that the lien be transferred to them.

Notification Timeline

  • October 1st - Utility determines which accounts are in arrears as of this date.
  • October 15th – Utility sends written notice of any amounts in arrears as of October 1st to all property owners and tenants. Utility shall also provide notice to each tenant against whom the municipality has a statutory lien.
  • November 1st – Utility applies a 10% penalty. Addition of the penalty is not optional.
  • November 16th – Utility transfers the unpaid arrears, plus the penalty, to the tax roll.
  • By December 17th – Utility shall file with clerk of courts a list of tenants against whom the municipality has a lien.

For further details on the Tax Roll Process as it relates to Landlord and Tenants with a landlord-tenant agreement on file, visit the Landlord & Tenants Page.