December 23, 2019
According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, residents of the state could be about to see their biggest property tax increase in a decade. A report from the Forum states that school property taxes are going up to $220 million on the December 2019 tax bills, and county and technical college levies are rising, as well. State budget changes included raising the revenue limits, and referenda regarding the changes have also passed. District levies going up based on those changes are not surprising. The school district property tax levies are going to be $5.21 billion in 2019-2020, as opposed to $4.99 billion in 2018-2019.
Because of local factors, assessments will be varied for individual properties. Nearly two-thirds of the property taxes in the state are made up of counties, technical colleges, and school districts. The rest of the property taxes come from municipal property tax levies, special districts, and tax increments. The state had capped property taxes for over 25 years, but revenue limits have to be adjusted. Concerns over the need to stay under the cap meant property taxes would have to be cut or the cap would need to be raised. Now that a state budget allowed for changes in revenue limits, schools can continue to get proper funds.
Schools can each have the level of funding they need per pupil, to make sure students get the help they require. With the changes and adjustments being made, property taxes will go up for a large number of residents, and the additional funding will go to the schools. But there are many who see this Wisconsin property tax increase as a serious issue for people who may not be able to afford it. A large number of school referenda have passed recently, and that has contributed to the property tax increases. School districts have been able to exceed revenue caps for the state, and that has meant raising property taxes.
The report by the Forum has noted that an increase in the tax levy stemming from school districts has a history throughout the state. In eight out of 10 years between 2000 and 2009, school district levies were raised by over 4.5 percent. It’s clear that this is something that happens relatively frequently, but with the larger number of recent referenda, the property taxes will take a much more significant jump than they would normally see. With local governments and schools, both relying very heavily on property taxes, the issues that were raised with the tax bills for 2019 will also need to be considered for 2020. By carefully addressing these concerns in the future, adjustments may be able to be made that will keep property taxes from continuing to rise.