Can a municipality specially assess property owned by other governmental entities such as the state, a county, or a town?
Yes. With a few limited exceptions
practically all private and public properties are subject to special
assessments for local public improvements and works, including property
owned by the state, a county, or a town. Wis. Stat. sec. 66.0705(1)(a).
Under sec. 66.0705(1), state property held for highway right-of-way
purposes or acquired as abandoned railroad property and held for
transportation, scenic or recreational purposes is exempt from special
assessments. In addition, special assessments cannot be levied against
“the right, easement or franchise to operate or maintain railroads,
telegraph, telecommunications or electric light or power systems in
streets, alleys, parks or highways.” Wis. Stat. sec. 66.0705(1)(b). Any
other property held by a railroad or utility company is subject to
special assessments as is any other privately held property.
Property of the United States is exempt from special assessments pursuant to Wis. Stat. sec. 1.04.
Also, land in agricultural use located in
a farmland preservation zoning district is exempt from special
assessments for sanitary sewers or water unless the owner voluntarily
pays after being notified of the exemption. Land covered by this
exemption may be denied use of an improvement created by the special
assessment Wis. Stat. sec. 91.50.
For more information on this topic see League opinions Special Assessments 640 and 642 and the League’s Special Assessments in Wisconsin
handbook at page 3.