Kohler Co. files suit regarding hotel assessment
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The Kohler Co. has filed a lawsuit against the village in Brown County Circuit Court to seek a reduction of nearly $5.15 million in the assessed value of Lodge Kohler, its hotel located across from Lambeau Field in Ashwaubenon’s Titletown District.
The Kohler Co. filed the lawsuit to appeal a decision the Ashwaubenon Board of Review made last fall when it effectively denied the company’s objection to the assessment by waiving a hearing on it.
According to court records, Kristina Somers of the Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren law firm, representing Kohler, filed the objection and requested the waiver because of the likelihood of litigation in the matter.
The court complaint, which claims Lodge’s Kohler’s fair market value on Jan. 1, 2021, was no higher than $12,367,000, also states Ashwaubenon’s assessment ratio at that time was around 94.24%, bringing the assessment to no higher than $11,655,239.
“Based on the tax rate of $18.102432 per $1,000 of assessed value, the correct amount of property tax on the property for 2021 should be no higher than $210,988,” the complaint said.
The company alleges the assessed value listed by the village exceeds fair market value, and the assessment violates the uniformity clause of the Wisconsin Constitution.
The complaint is seeking a refund on the property taxes Kohler states are excessive, plus interest.
According to Brown County property tax records, Lodge Kohler’s net property tax for 2021 is $285,849.86, for which a half payment of $142,924.93 was made Jan. 31, with the other half due by July 31.
The company’s lawsuit comes approximately three years after Lodge Kohler’s assessment was lowered by more than $11.8 million to the current $16.8 million.
Neither Somers nor company spokesman Todd Weber responded for comment regarding the lawsuit.
Village Manager Joel Gregozeski said the village is aware of the complaint being filed in court, but it hadn’t been officially served to the village.
“Obviously, we cannot discuss cases actively being litigated,” he said.
County property tax records also indicate Lodge Kohler’s property tax bill for 2020 was $304,065.39, which the company paid in two installments totaling more than $18,000 higher than the current tax year amount.
Lodge Kohler’s 2021 assessed value of $16.8 million is based on the 3.895 acres of commercial property having a land value of $3,808,500, with improvements of $12,991,500.
When the company objected more than three years ago to what Lodge Kohler was going to be assessed, claiming the value was $11,604,100, the Board of Review agreed with assessor Mike Denor, who said he determined the property had an assessed value of $28,656,900, based on the cost to build the hotel.
Mike Denor said the company had previously been reluctant to share income information with him, but following the board’s denial of the objection more than three years ago, it provided that to him to show Lodge Kohler’s income projections weren’t being met with what the business generated.
He said he worked with Somers to settle on an assessed value based on income, and the two reached a “handshake” agreement for the property at $16.8 million.
Lodge Kohler, which opened in 2017, has described itself as an AAA four-diamond hotel featuring 144 guest rooms outfitted with custom-designed Kohler bathrooms and bedrooms.
The property also includes the Kohler Waters Spa, a top-floor restaurant and bar known as Taverne in the Sky, the indoor/outdoor Leaps & Bounds Café on the main level and a collection of Green Bay Packers memorabilia.