FREDERICKSBURG (WTVR) – The judge hearing the case between the city of Fredericksburg and the National Slavery Museum founded by former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder continued the legal proceedings until late May. The city claims Wilder’s museum owes $340,000 in back taxes on property where the museum was to be built.
Lawyers for the city went to court Monday morning hoping the judge would grant permission for Fredericksburg to auction of the still unused land.
Instead, Judge Gordon Willis granted the continuance because Wilder’s lawyer, state delegate Joe Morrissey, was involved in the General Assembly session when he was hired to represent Wilder. By rule, cases involving members of the General Assembly must be granted at least a 30-day continuance once the session ends.
Outside of court, Morrissey breezed past the reasoning for the continuance and focused on the case he believes Wilder has in court.
“This assessment filed by the city is grossly inflated,” Morrissey said as Wilder stood silent off to the side. “We expect to bring evidence to the commissioner of revenue in Fredericksburg that the value that they assessed was over-assessed by approximately $6 million.”
Morrissey said once the tax issue is resolved, Wilder planned to move forward with the creation and building of the National Slavery Museum.
"They themselves [the commission of revenue] have acknowledged that it's incorrect," Morrissey asserted. "Taxes are alleged to be owed on $7 million and when they did their own independent assessment it turned out to be $1.7 at most. Therefore, their own assessment shows that their assessment is incorrect."
CBS 6 contacted the city of Fredericksburg for comment on Morrissey's claim. This story will be updated once a comment is received.
When asked whether he thought the two sides could have the tax issue resolved before the May court date, Morrissey replied he is "always optimistic."