Adams Outdoor Advertising: WI Supreme Court rejects city of Madison appeal regarding excessive billboard tax


Jason Saari

Real Estate Manager

Adams Outdoor Advertising


MADISON, WI. – On January 11, 2011, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied a petition by the City of Madison to appeal a District IV Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Adams Outdoor Advertising in its case against the City of Madison regarding excessive taxation of its billboards.

The decision is the fifth victory for Adams Outdoor Advertising in its lawsuit which was initially brought in 2002. The lawsuit challenged the City of Madison’s value assessments of the company’s billboard sign structures for the purpose of personal property taxes. Madison was the first city in the U.S. to value the income generated from Adams sign structures, along with permit value and other intangible items, which was in contradiction to the nationwide standard for assessing billboards.

In July 2006, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled the City of Madison’s tax assessment of Adams’ sign structures was flawed and issued an order requiring the city assessor to reassess Adams’ sign structures. The City of Madison did comply with the court order and reassessed the values. However, the City of Madison’s values remained virtually unchanged form the amounts the Wisconsin Supreme Court had previously rejected.

Adams challenged the new values, and the City of Madison Board of Review ruled in Adams favor by rejecting the City’s excessive assessment figures. As a result, the case was sent to trial before Judge Foust in Dane County Circuit Court. In April 2009, Judge Foust rendered a decision in Adams favor, and the City of Madison appealed that decision. In July 2010, the District IV Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. The City of Madison then petitioned the case to be heard again before the WI Supreme Court.

Ed Schulz, General Manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising in Madison, said “I am pleased to hear the WI Supreme Court has decided not to hear this case. We are looking forward to bringing this matter to a close, after having won this mater in the court system numerous times over the previous eight years”.

A judgment will soon be entered pursuant to the Court’s decision.
Adams Outdoor Advertising, Ltd Partnership has offices in seventeen cities covering eight states including North and South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.