Licensing & Regulation FAQ 2

Are there any limits on the amount a municipality may charge for a license or permit issued by the municipality?

Yes.  If the state legislature has not established a specific charge or fee for a license or permit issued by a municipality, the license charge or fee established by the municipality must bear a reasonable relation to the service for which the fee is imposed. Wis. Stat. sec. 66.0628(1). Accordingly, a fee may reflect the cost of granting the license or permit (e.g., clerk’s and issuing authority’s time) and of investigating, inspecting and exercising proper police supervision. Where the legislature has set a range for fees (e.g., the fee for a “Class B” liquor license has a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $500), a municipality may set the fee anywhere within the statutory range, without justifying the particular fee. Sluggy’s Lake Front Inn, Inc. v. Delavan, 125 Wis. 2d 199, 372 N.W.2d 174 (Ct. App. 1985). If the charge or fee for a license or permit is not reasonably related to the expenses incurred by the municipality under the regulation, the charge or fee will be deemed an unlawful tax.