Appeal from an order of the Circuit Court for Wood County: Jon P. Wilcox, Judge.
Petition to Review Denied.
Gartzke, P.j., Dykman, J. and W. L. Jackman, Reserve Judge. Dykman, J. (minority OPINION(S)ing.)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gartzke
The Board of Review of the Town of Saratoga appeals from the circuit court's order setting aside the town's 1979 tax assessments against properties of respondents Nekoosa Papers, Marlene Capek, Laurel Babb, Thomas and Elizabeth Joslin, Mengel Cranberry Company and Getzin Cranberry Company. The court held that the board erred by failing to make a verbatim record of its deliberative sessions following the hearings on respondents' objections to the assessments. We reverse.
The relevant facts are undisputed. Pursuant to sec. 70.47(8), Stats., the board of review conducted hearings on respondents' objections to the assessor's valuations of their properties. Verbatim records were made of those hearings. The board held its deliberative sessions at other times. The only records of the deliberative sessions consist of board minutes kept by the town clerk. The minutes state the times and dates of the meetings, *fn1 that all board members and the assessor and his staff were present, and the board's determinations.
Dissatisfied with the board's determinations, respondents sought judicial review, pursuant to sec. 70.47(9a), Stats. 1977. *fn2 The six cases were consolidated. The circuit court concluded that sec. 70.47(8) (e), Stats., requires that the board's deliberations on the correctness of assessments be taken in full by a stenographer or a recording device. The court therefore set aside each determination by the board as to the correctness of each valuation, and remanded for further proceedings.
The issue turns on the meaning of a statute, a question of law. We are not bound by the trial court's views on the meaning of a statute. State v. Yellow Freight System, Inc., 96 Wis. 2d 484, 489, 292 N.W.2d 361, 364 (Ct. App. 1980), aff'd, 101 Wis. 2d 142, 303 N.W.2d 834 (1981). If a statute is unambiguous, no judicial rule of construction is permitted, and a court must arrive at the intention of the legislature by giving statutory language its ordinary and accepted meaning. State ex rel. Milwaukee County v. WCCJ, 73 Wis. 2d 237, 241, 243 N.W.2d 485, 487 (1976).
Board of review proceedings are conducted pursuant to sec. 70.47, Stats. Separate subsections of that statute control the procedure applicable to hearings before the board and the procedure applicable to the board's deliberations. Section 70.47(8), describing the procedure applicable to hearings, provides, "The board shall hear upon oath all persons who appear before it in relation to the assessment, and on such hearing shall proceed as follows," and requires the clerk to swear witnesses, controls the sequence of witnesses, allows for compulsory production of evidence, and further provides: "(e) All proceedings shall be taken in full by a stenographer or by a recording device, the expense thereof to be paid by the district."
The deliberative sessions of the board are conducted pursuant to another subsection, sec. 70.47(9), Stats., which provides:
(a) From the evidence before it the board shall determine whether the assessor's valuation is correct. If too high or too low, it shall raise or lower the same accordingly. A majority of the members of the board present at the meeting to make the determination shall constitute a quorum for purposes of making such determination, and a majority vote of the quorum shall constitute the determination. In the event there is a tie vote, the assessor's valuation shall be sustained.
(b) A board member may not be counted in determining a quorum and may not vote concerning any determination unless, concerning such determination, such member:
1. Attended the hearing of the evidence; or
2. Received the transcript of the hearing no less than 5 days prior to the meeting and read such transcript; or
3. Received a mechanical recording of the evidence no less than 5 days prior to the meeting and ...