Tax rates don’t tell the whole story

Dan Benson:

The proposed tax rate, however, is $1.83 per $1,000 of equalized value, down from $1.97 this year. That means the owner of a $250,000 house would save about $35 on the tax bill from the previous year.
“(Vrakas) is calling it a tax decrease because the impact on some homeowners is that their tax bill may go down a couple bucks,” said Christine Lufter, president of the Waukesha Taxpayers League.
Focusing on tax rates is “the most deceptive way of selling a budget. It’s not an indicator of government efficiency,” she said.
Instead, she and Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Association, say taxpayers should focus on the entire budget picture.
“Taxpayers should not pay attention to the tax rate. It’s a function of both taxes and (property) values. And in the last 10 to 15 years, when values have been going up at a pretty rapid clip, it becomes almost a no-brainer to drop the tax rate,” Berry said. “Playing games with the tax rate is my No. 1 pet peeve.”