The Dane County Towns Association held its annual meeting last week via videoconference, where members discussed their option to waive interest and penalties on upcoming property-tax installments.

The option came as a result of 2019 Wisconsin Act 185, which was enacted into law April 15.

The bill has authorized counties and their municipalities to effectively grant an extension on installment payments due April or later, in light of financial hardships caused by COVID-19.

“After making a general or case-by-case finding of hardship,” the law states, “a taxation district may provide that an installment payment that is due and payable after April 1, 2020, and is received after its due date shall not accrue interest or penalties if the total amount due and payable in 2020 is paid on or before October 1, 2020.”

The bill stipulated that, for a taxation district to waive the interest and penalties, the county within which it is located must first pass a resolution allowing the waiver.

Dane County adopted that resolution May 7, signing it into law shortly thereafter.

“We want to do as much as we can to help our residents and families make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “By giving local governments the opportunity to delay property tax due dates, we hope to help residents feel relief and get more time and flexibility to meet this expense.”

Since then, several municipalities in the county have exercised the option.

The Town of Springfield passed a resolution waving interest and penalties on second-installment payments May 19, using a template provided by the Wisconsin Towns Association.

Town officials explained that it would allow businesses time to reopen before having to pay out.

“We’ve got businesses and farmers that are really hurting,” supervisor Jim Pulvermacher said. “And we thought that, if the county was willing to do this…it wouldn’t be that hurtful for us, because there’s a lot of people just hanging on.”

The Town of Pleasant Springs passed the resolution May 19 as well, in consideration of resident famers who have been negatively affected by the state- and countywide shutdown.

Chairperson David Pfeiffer said assisting those individuals was a priority for his township.

“One of our plan commissioner’s job is refinancing famers,” Pfeiffer said. “And we hear from her how tough this has been. So our town also passed this, primarily thinking about the ag people who may be hurting.”

Others to pass the resolution included the Town of Middleton, City of Sun Prairie and Madison.

The Town of Westport discussed the option at its May 18 board meeting, and will consider a resolution authorizing the waiver on Monday night.

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