by Victoria Heldt
Town of Buchanan v. Village of Kimberly
(Wisconsin Court of Appeals, December 6, 2011)
This case revolves around an agreement made between the Town of Buchanan and the Village of Kimberly regarding annexation. In 2000 the two municipalities designated a specific area within the Town as a Village growth area. The Town agreed not to oppose the Village’s annexation of land within the described area and the Village agreed not to try to annex land outside the area. In 2006 the Village annexed property known as Emons Farm that was situated outside the designated Village growth area. To settle the matter, the Village and the Town entered into an “intermunicipal agreement” in 2007. In it, the Village agreed to pay the Town $25,000 and to refrain from attracting property owners to annex additional property in the Town. On the other hand, it clarified that the Village may not disallow future annexation of property within the Town if a unanimous petition to do so is presented.
In 2009, the Village once again annexed property within the Town. The Town did not object, but claimed that it was entitled to five annual payments pursuant to Wis. Stat. §66.0217(14)(a)1. This statute states that the annexation of a property cannot take place unless the party petitioning for annexation agrees to pay the Town five annual payments equal to the amount of property taxes the Town would normally collect for the property. The Village was of the opinion that it was exempt from the payments under subd. 2 of the same statute, which states that, in the existence of a boundary agreement, the payment requirement does not apply. The Village argued that the intermunicipal agreement made in 2007 constituted a boundary agreement, so the payments were not required. The Town countered that the agreement was not a “boundary agreement” as defined by statute. The circuit court ruled in favor of the Town that the agreement was not a “boundary agreement.” It found it illogical to allow a one-time boundary negotiation for a specific instance to govern all future boundary agreements. It opined that doing so would “render meaningless the statute.”
On appeal, the Town argued that the 2007-2008 version of Wis. Stat. §66.0301 applied while the Village argued that the 2005-2006 version of the statute applied. The two versions were identical except that the more recent version contained an additional subsection (6) which addressed agreements “determining all or a portion of the common boundary line between two municipalities.” The Court noted that it did not need to settle the conflict regarding which version applied since the intermunicipal agreement formed in 2007 did not constituted a boundary agreement per statute. In order to constitute an agreement under Wis. Stat. §66.0301, it must provide for “the receipt or furnishing of services or the joint exercise of any power or duty required or authorized by law.” Since the agreement made between the Village and the Town in 2007 contained no such provision, it did not qualify as a boundary agreement under the relevant statute. Consequently, the payment exception in §66.0217(14)(a)2 did not apply. The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision in favor of the Town.