October Festival Guide

Wilder defers questions as legal battle continues over National Slavery Museum

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WTVR) – Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder deferred questions to his lawyer after a Monday morning hearing about his stalled National Slavery Museum project. Inside the Fredericksburg courtroom, Wilder’s legal team filed a “late answer,” giving them seven days to respond to the city of Fredericksburg’s civil suit against the museum over unpaid taxes on the property.

The case has recently hinged on an assessment of the property by the city that came back millions of dollars less than a similar appraisal in 2008. Wilder’s team has argued the decreased assessment should mean a lower tax bill.

Attorneys representing Fredericksburg seemed dismayed with today’s delay and said they wanted to move forward with the proceedings.

“After we receive the response we’ll evaluate it and take the steps necessary,” John Rife, attorney for Fredericksburg said, after the hearing. “But we have the decry of sale hearing coming up on May 28 and we intend to be ready to argue it that day.”

Wilder’s defense team wanted the two sides to agree on a set of numbers in terms of the assessment and tax bill.

“This is the accurate assessment,” Wilder’s attorney Joe Morrissey said. “These are the taxes that are owed. Let’s agree on  this and let’s put this matter to bed.”

Morrissey said he’s be willing to meet ahead of the May 28 hearing to reach an agreement.

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