Bruce Murphy

Mistakes Made on Hendricks Home

Town lawyer says assessment too low, should be reconsidered.

By - May 22nd, 2017 02:00 pm
Diane Hendricks' Home on Bing Maps

Diane Hendricks’ Home on Bing Maps

Two attorneys who handle legal work for the Town of Rock conceded in an interview with Urban Milwaukee that Diane Hendricks’ home is under-assessed.

“It does appear to be under-stated,” said Dave Moore, an attorney with Nowlan & Mouat LLP, a firm in Janesville. “This is a high-end home. Whether it is high-end enough is something we need to look at.”

Urban Milwaukee published a story last week reporting that the Town of Rock assessment still listed Hendricks as owning a 1,663-square-foot home built in 1993, when Hendricks has built a newer mansion described in Forbes magazine as a 10,000-square-foot home.

Moore conceded the town still lists only a 1,663-square-foot home. “That doesn’t seem right,” he said.

Timothy Lindau of Nowlan & Mouat, who serves as the Town of Rock’s lead attorney, said “we’ll get the assessor to take another look at it.”

Moore and Lindau could not say why the assessment hadn’t been updated to include the new home, nor did they know when the mansion was completed. Moore speculated that the expansion of the older, smaller home began in 2007 and proceeded in stages.

The Town of Rock website‘s assessment data, which was used by Urban Milwaukee reporter Michael Horne, showed that the home was assessed at $390,000 in May 2016. This data was also recommended to him by the town’s Clerk/Treasurer Deborah Bennett.

But the two attorneys referred us to the Rock County tax database, which they believe is more accurate and which has somewhat different data: it shows the home was assessed at $322,050 in 2012 through 2014, and was increased to $341,800 in 2015 and then jumped to $445,700 in 2016. Why the recent increase?

“The assessor is being told they haven’t been allowed access to the home,” Lindau says.

In short, Diane Hendricks did not allow a home inspection. This is legal, and assessors typically respond by increasing the assessment, assuming improvements were made. But even the two increases made since 2015 wouldn’t come close to reflecting the six-fold increase in the reported size of the new home. Hendricks is probably paying many thousands of dollars less in annual property taxes than she would if properly assessed.

Hendricks is the wealthiest self-made woman in the state, with an estimated net worth of $5 billion and considerable knowledge of homes and real estate. Before she and her late husband started their roofing business, she got her start in the house-flipping business, she once noted. Hendricks has also managed to keep her state income tax load low, having paid no taxes in four of five years from 2010 to 2014.

Repeated calls to Hendricks at ABC Supply were not returned. Nor were calls to her assistant Tammy Hess or calls and emails to Katie Goodale, who handles media for ABC Supply. Nor were calls to Mark Gunn, Town of Rock board chairperson, and town board supervisor Pete Parker.

Only Tony Dubanowich, the third member of the town board, answered a phone call, and expressed surprise the home might be under-assessed.

“Really?” he said.

Does that concern you?

“Absolutely,” he said. But Dubanowich added that “I don’t think it’s a 10,000-square-foot home.”

How big do you think the home is?

“I don’t know, but it’s not 10,000 square feet.”

The Town of Rock pays a private company, Accurate Appraisal, to do its assessments. Lindau says the town switched assessors five years ago, from another private company to the current one.

That would mean the two recent, moderate increases in the home’s assessment were made by Accurate Appraisal, which inherited the information from the previous assessor, which still listed a 1663-square-foot home, and the information has never been updated.

“When an improvement is done on a home, the requires a building inspector report,” Moore noted. “I don’t know whether that happened here.”

The current assessment, Lindau conceded, “may well be very low.”


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Categories: Politics, Real Estate

33 thoughts on “Mistakes Made on Hendricks Home”

  1. John says:

    “It does appear to be under-stated”

    The understatement of the year?

  2. Dudemeister says:

    Look at Mr. Horne! Still cracking cases. Stick it to em – a little justice feels enlivening.

  3. Rita says:

    Oops, misspell. It is spelled F-R-A-U-D.

  4. Gilbert Williams says:

    Bruce Murphy should be asking questions at the next town board meeting.

  5. Gilbert Williams says:

    The property owner should get the bill for the investigative journalism.

  6. Bruce says:

    Can you believe that happened . I’m sure Scott Walker would like to know about such a big mistake .

  7. Bob says:

    She is worth $5 billion and she is proud that she is fleecing the system. No taxes for 5 years? Seriously? She should be audited for her personal and business taxes. How can you build a new home and not have an accurate appraisal on the books? Something is really messed up here form the town to the appraisal company.

  8. Jim says:

    The more money she saves by not paying her fair share of property taxes, the more money she can funnel into the super PAC that keeps Walker afloat.

  9. Sandy ruffalo says:

    This is why the world needs these inquiring, intelligent, caring journalists. Good work, Mike!

  10. tim haering says:

    NIce story, Bruce. But you know the bill will just be chump change. And chump rhymes with Trump. VOs to Walker: ‘Don’t trump us, man.’ Where are our straight shooters, our square dealers? Find ’em, Bruce. Make ’em stop playing dodge ball. Cordon off your own No Spin Zone. YOU don’t get to be a man like Buffett by being a man like BUffett. Even if they are a tad disingenuous, we could use a few more Buffetts.

  11. Thomas Spellman says:

    Most likely the two increased were just the normal adjustments made to all properties. Ask for the building permits and if non are issues then you can really have fun Building’s build without a permit have been ordered taken down. 75 feet of waters edge but it would have been an improvement to an existing building so. But it is the building permits fir starters. Peace

  12. Daniel Golden says:

    Mistakes were made? Kind of like compost is made. Micheal Horne has done a wonderful public service by pointing out the inherently corrupt nature of a right wing billionaire who sees every thing she likes in our similarly ethically challenged governor, and supports Walker with millions of dollars while chiselling the town folk around her, who have to pay more because she scams the system.. The fact that Hendricks won’t allow access to the home is easily resolved. Having done municipal law for decades,I know from experience of two approaches to the Diane Hendricks of the world who try to game the system by refusing to allow the municipal assessor access to their home: 1-do what is called a “doomage” assessment, which is a high ball assessment based on comparable 10,000 sq, ft homes;2 get an inspection warrant from a local judge, which requires her to admit the assessor to her property. The size of her home is readily apparent from Google earth, etc, so the under assessment for several years is almost certainly due to corruption rather than error.

  13. blurondo says:

    Hey, Diane, the “little people” are pissed. Also, all the folks who are planning building/remodeling projects, you have a say in where your contractor buys his supplies.

  14. Sam says:

    Great job! This is only the beginning.

  15. Bobby says:

    Probably the way she operates just like she runs ABC destroying ever one life who is getting old from companies they bought. I have no respect for her or the management at ABC. Was told they could hire 3 or 4 people to replace me at what I made. They dont E verify when I was their.

  16. Jason says:

    Liberals never understand that in this country we do not tax wealth but income that is why the Buffett’s, the Gates, the Abele’s, the Trumps and the Diane Hendricks of the world do not care if you raise income taxes. They don’t pay income taxes and then you get all teary eyed. When you raise income taxes you just screw the working man.

  17. Thomas Spellman says:

    That is true today but there is this reality that is called a 20 Trillion Dollar National Debt that a good sized chunk of it has to be paid down before interest rates rise and so the only place to find that money is a tax on wealth. The wealth have made out like bandits for the past 40 years and so now is the time to pay up. The alternative is Trump’s declaring bankruptcy which we know really is not possible. The Republican’s have built the debt and benefited from the debt and so they will have to pay it back. Peace

  18. Jason says:

    Mr. Spellman, I will admit that under the leadership of G.W. Bush and many Democrats we probably wasted one trillion dollars in Iraq, but you must also recognize that the welfare state is too unsustainable. How do we confiscate wealth from those who have so much. The three riches men in this country are all Democrats and they will be protect by their party. Jeff Bezos/Warren Buffett/ Willliam “Bill” Gates.

  19. Rita says:

    Umm….$6T debt from Mideast wars and gearing up for more. 800 military bases around the world. Military empires collapse when they take on too much. So here we are 16 years in and just multiplying the same mistakes. Excuse me, not we. We didn’t have a choice. Our leadership did this to the world and to us. We just kind of stood by and waved our flags, hoping it would end soon. Well, now that they are fat and rich and more ruthless than ever, we begin to understand we are next. Our wealth, what little we have left, will go to feed their greedy wars and our resources will be sold to fund their greedy wars, whether we like it or not. Yeah, this one ain’t on the poor people or the disabled or elderly or the black, brown, or gay or even the so called terrorist. But the leadership would like you to continue thinking that’s the problem. But, I digress. Hendrick’s property tax bill – just an example of how entitled the greedy rich are and it’s just a tiny, tiny tip of the iceberg.

  20. Jason says:

    Last month, the tax payers of this country paid $34 billion dollars just in interest on the national debt. POOF!

    The poor will have to work or suffer whether the president is a D or an R. A lot of poor rural folk voted for Trump hoping the jobs would come back as they watch their small towns crumble. Little do they know that they must search out work it will not come to them,

  21. Rita says:

    Bring on the POOF! Let the rich fall from their great heights. We are closer to the ground and will be okay. Unless they decide they need to start using nukes…then we are all toast. Should we wait longer and see what happens?

  22. Jason says:

    The rich will not fall but move to a friendlier tax country.

  23. Rita says:

    Yes. Let them, if anyone would have them.

  24. Jason says:

    Almost all countries would. There are no billionaires in North Korea for a reason other than the leader.

  25. Jeremy says:

    Not to make excuses but this is the state of local government in small towns. The assessor is probably in charge of 4-5 towns and spends a single day in each town. The Clerk/Treasurer probably manages the finances, committees and elections with little time for anything else. See the Journal Sentinel report Trouble with Taxes (
    I’m not saying there isn’t anything fishy, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t just a case of undermanned government.

  26. Thomas Spellman says:

    Folks These folks are not incompetent. The have a building inspector and building permits that are taken out for specific amounts of money. That is the beginning point for the new assessment. It seems the attorneys are the folks to keep talking to.

  27. Bea says:

    Jason is a veritable right-wing talking point generator. I blame his parents.

  28. Dan Schley says:

    I am leaning toward the belief that the construction was also done without permits, since permit inspections would be available to the assessor to assist with updating the assessment. So she fleeced the township even more.

  29. Thomas Spellman says:

    And her husband fell in the hole that was not properly protected. A construction accident waiting to happen. I do not have time but the Building Inspector should know if permits were taken out.

  30. sharon says:

    the assessor can go back two years for omitted property….hope the ‘contracted assessor’ does their job and follows the rules

  31. Casey says:

    Waiting for Skip Bliss to chime in again….

  32. Thomas says:

    This story is rich. It gets richer as more people hear it. If more stories such as this one reached more ears, the rich could be forced to pay their fair share in taxes for essential government services.

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