Are Property Assessment Records Subject to Open Records Law?



The Wisconsin Supreme Court rules on the WireData Court Case.


From the ruling:


1. WireData did not properly commence the mandamus actions against the municipalities under the state open records law, because WireData’s requests were not denied.


2. WireDatas initial requests were not insufficient as a matter of law as to time and subject matter.


3. A municipalities’ independent contractor assessor is not an authority under open records therefore not a proper recipient of an open records request.


4. A municipality may not avoid liability under open records by contracting with an independent contractor assessor who has custody of the sought after records.


5. The court of appeals was wrong in ruling that supplying data in a pdf format was insufficient


6. Because no actual fees were charged for the information the municipalities provide WireData in the pdf format, the municipalities did not violate the open records law. Hence, they are not liable for damages.


Link to the ruling:


Link to the prior Court of Appeals Decision:


Court: Towns satisfied Wisconsin open records law



Associated Press


Article Last Updated: 06/25/2008 10:33:50 AM CDT


MADISON — Three municipalities did not break the state’s open records law when they refused to give a real estate listing service access to a computer database, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said today.


The decision is expected to have a wide-reaching impact on open records requests for computer databases. It overturns an appeals court decision that said government agencies must provide access to their databases when asked.


The Supreme Court said today that doing that would pose substantial risks.


WIREdata Corp. asked the city of Port Washington and the villages of Thiensville and Sussex in 2001 for access to their property assessment records in the same database format the information was kept by private contractors who collected the information.



For full text of the article, visit:


Source: Associated Press, as posted on


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