Let’s Compare: Middleton and Madison Property Taxes

Madison property taxes are 22% more than Middleton’s for a comparable home, based on this comparison of 2017 sales. xlsx file. Related links: Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 tax and spending history. Madison spends around 18.5 to 20K per student, depending on the district documents reviewed (some include all referendum spending). Middleton taxpayers spent $90,989,198 for … Continue reading Let’s Compare: Middleton and Madison Property Taxes

Ongoing Increases in Madison Property Taxes: “Delinquencies 30% More Than We Expect” (!); Schools up 4.2% this year

Bill Novak Madison property owners will soon be able to pay their taxes in four installments, beginning with the 2014 tax bill coming in December. The Mayor’s Office said on Tuesday the four-payment plan could help taxpayers avoid penalties by spreading out the taxes owed over a seven-month period. “At the height of the recession, … Continue reading Ongoing Increases in Madison Property Taxes: “Delinquencies 30% More Than We Expect” (!); Schools up 4.2% this year

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: 2010 Madison Property Tax Bills Online

City of Madison 2010 property tax bills can be viewed at the City Assessor’s office website and via Access Dane.. Taxes are up, significantly.
The increases depend, to some extent on property assessments (if the assessed value declines, tax rates generally increase more to compensate for the reduced tax base and support spending growth), but a quick look reveals City of Madison and Dane County taxes are up in the 6% range, MATC over 10% and the Madison School District in the 9% range. Much more on the Madison School District’s 2010-2011 budget, here.
Two Madison School Board seats will be on the April, 2011 spring election ballot. They are currently occupied by Ed Hughes and Marj Passman. I presume they are both seeking re-election, but I’ve not seen an announcement to that effect.

Madison Property Taxes up more than 4%

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

A snowflake is small. But a blizzard of snowflakes can bury a house.
You can view your looming property tax bill in similar ways.
A single tax increase by one local unit of government might seem negligible.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, for example, is proposing a $38 increase on the county’s portion of the average local property tax bill in Madison for 2010. That’s an increase of only a few dollars a month.
But that $38 represents a 6.5 percent increase at a time when most people’s wages are relatively flat or falling. And that $38 pushes the county’s portion of the average property tax bill in Madison to $626.

Madison Property Tax History: 2001-2007

via the City of Madison Assessor’s office: “The 2008 Property Tax Base of the City of Madison (52K PDF)”. The City’s tax base continues to expand. There are 71,939 parcels in Madison, up from 40,069 in 1990. The Total 2008 assessed value is 21,496,000,000, up from $13,791,000,000 in 2002. Such growth provides great latidude in easing mill rates. Of course, as valuations flatten or decline, the mill rate may dramatically increase, depending on the magnitude of government/school spending increases.

Property Tax Explosion Stunts Chicago Real Estate Market

AK Thomson: Bryce Hill, research analyst at the independent Illinois Policy think-tank, says that the annual property-tax take in Cook County, which includes Chicago, increased 76 per cent more than median home values between 1996 and 2016. “Both the city and the state are wrestling with unbalanced budgets, massive amounts of pension debt, and limited … Continue reading Property Tax Explosion Stunts Chicago Real Estate Market

K-12 tax & spending climate: We borrow too much from the future at our peril

Peter Fisher: Why are central bankers so concerned with liquidity? Is this sympathy for the plight of the hard-working bond trader? It is more likely they wonder if the lofty asset prices they have engineered with quantitative easing can be sustained. By liquidity we mean our ability to sell an asset without material loss. In … Continue reading K-12 tax & spending climate: We borrow too much from the future at our peril

Commentary on Madison’s April 7, 2015 Maintenance Referendum; District spending data remains MIA

Molly Beck: If approved, the referendum would raise property taxes about $62 on the average $237,678 Madison home for 10 years. The district is still paying off $30 million in referendum debt for the construction of Olson and Chavez elementary schools in the late 2000s, according to the district. The final payment, for the Olson … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s April 7, 2015 Maintenance Referendum; District spending data remains MIA

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Falling Wages at Factories Squeeze the Middle Class

Nelson Schwartz & Patricia Cohen: For nearly 20 years, Darrell Eberhardt worked in an Ohio factory putting together wheelchairs, earning $18.50 an hour, enough to gain a toehold in the middle class and feel respected at work. He is still working with his hands, assembling seats for Chevrolet Cruze cars at the Camaco auto parts … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Falling Wages at Factories Squeeze the Middle Class

Madison School Board reviews Proposed $373,000,000 Budget

The Madison Metropolitan School District Board reviewed the almost $373 million budget proposed by Superintendent Dan Nerad Monday night.
If the superintendent’s budget is approved, Madison property taxes could increase more than four percent, about a $100 tax increase on the average home in Madison.
The estimate does not include a proposed $12.4 million put aside to help the achievement gap in Madison schools.
The budget already poses an estimated $12.4 million deficit.

Related: Singapore vs. Madison/US Schools: Do We (Americans) Put Money into Our Children?

Madison School District Proposes a 3.2% Property Tax Increase for the 2011-2012 Budget

Matthew DeFour:

Madison teachers wouldn’t pay anything toward their health insurance premiums next year and property taxes would decline $2 million under Superintendent Dan Nerad’s 2011-12 budget proposal.
The $359 million proposal, a 0.01 percent increase over this year, required the closing of a $24.5 million gap between district’s estimated expenses from January and the expenditures allowed under Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget, Nerad said.
Nerad proposes collecting $243 million in property taxes, down from $245 million this year. Because of an estimated drop in property value, the budget would mean a $90 increase on an average Madison home, down from $170 this year. That amount may decrease once the city releases an updated average home estimate for next year.

Related taxbase articles:

Wisconsin State Senator Seeks to Stop 4K Funding Growth, Including Madison’s Planned Program

Matthew DeFour:

A Republican lawmaker wants to kill Madison’s fledgling 4-year-old kindergarten program before it even begins.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said Wednesday the state shouldn’t encourage new 4K programs — now in 85 percent of the state’s school districts and with three times as many students as a decade ago — because taxpayers can’t afford them.
“We have a very difficult budget here,” Grothman said in an interview. “Some of it is going to have to be solved by saying some of these massive expansions of government in the last 10 years cannot stand.”
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad called Grothman’s proposal “very troubling.”
“I don’t know what the 4-year-olds in Madison did to offend the senator,” Nerad said. “There are plenty of studies that have indicated that it’s a good idea to invest as early as possible.”
Last month the Madison School Board approved a $12.2 million 4K program for next fall with registration beginning Feb. 7. Madison’s program is projected to draw $10 million in extra state aid in 2014 when the state’s funding formula accounts for the additional students. Overall this year, school districts are projected to collect $223 million in state aid and property taxes for 4K programs, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.
It appears that redistributed state tax dollars for K-12 are destined to change due to a significant budget deficit, not to mention the significant growth in spending over the past two decades.

The recent 9% increase in Madison property taxes is due in part to changes in redistributed state tax funds.
I spoke with a person active in State politics recently about 4K funding. Evidently, some lawmakers view this program as a method to push more tax dollars to the Districts.

DCPAC Dan Nerad Meeting Summary

A video tape of the entire presentation and discussion with Dr. Nerad may be viewed by visiting this internet link: http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2008/09/ madison_superin_10.php

Dan Nerad opened his remarks by stating his commitment to efforts for always continuing change and improvement with the engagement of the community. He outlined four areas of focus on where we are going from here.

  1. Funding: must balance district needs and taxpayer needs. He mentioned the referendum to help keep current programs in place and it will not include “new” things.
  2. Strategic Plan: this initiative will formally begin in January 2009 and will involve a large community group process to develop as an ongoing activity.
  3. Meet people: going throughout the community to meet people on their own terms. He will carefully listen. He also has ideas.
  4. Teaching and learning mission: there are notable achievement gaps we need to face head-on. The “achievement gap” is serious. The broader mission not only includes workforce development but also helping students learn to be better people. We have a “tale of two school districts” – numbers of high achievers (including National Merit Scholars), but not doing well with a lot of other students. Low income and minority students are furtherest away from standards that must be met. Need to be more transparent with the journey to fix this problem and where we are not good. Must have the help of the community. The focus must be to improve learning for ALL kids, it is a “both/and” proposition with a need to reframe the issue to help all kids move forward from where they are. Must use best practices in contemporary assessment, curriculum, pedagogy and instructional methods.

Dr. Nerad discussed five areas about which he sees a need for community-wide conversations for how to meet needs in the district.

  1. Early learning opportunities: for pre-kindergarten children. A total community commitment is needed to prevent the ‘achievement gap’ from widening.
  2. High schools: How do we want high schools to be? Need to be more responsive. The curriculum needs to be more career oriented. Need to break down the ‘silos’ between high school, tech schools and colleges. Need to help students move through the opportunities differently. The Small Learning Communities Grant recently awarded to the district for high schools and with the help of the community will aid the processes for changes in the high schools.
  3. School safety: there must be an on-going commitment for changes. Nerad cited three areas for change:

    a. A stronger curriculum helping people relate with other people, their differences and conflicts.

    b. A response system to safety. Schools must be the safest of sanctuaries for living, learning and development.

    c.Must make better use of research-based technology that makes sense.

  4. Math curriculum and instruction: Cited the recent Math Task Force Report

    a. Good news: several recommendations for curriculum, instruction and policies for change.

    b. Bad news: our students take less math than other urban schools in the state; there are notable differences in the achievement gap.

  5. Fine Arts: Cited recent Fine Arts Task Force Report. Fine arts curriculum and activities in the schools, once a strength, has been whittled away due to budget constraints. We must deal with the ‘hands of the clock’ going forward and develop a closer integration of the schools and community in this area.

Property Tax Effect – Madison School District

As the cost of running the district continues to rise, and as Madison homeowners and families find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, it is easy to think that our property taxes are also ever rising. But that’s not the case, at least as regards the portion that goes toward our schools. Over the past 15 years, the schools’ portion of Madison property taxes has declined 6%, on average. The decrease is 9% if you adjust for today’s higher enrollment figures (1993 = 23,600; 2007 = 24,200). And it plunges to a 36% decrease if you adjust for inflation; (a dollar today is worth 30% less than it was 15 years ago).
The chart below, based on local funding of MMSD and data from the city assessor’s office, shows the recent history of school mill rates, the rate that is applied to your assessed property value to determine how much you contribute towards Madison schools (10 mills = 1.0% of the assessed property value). The reported rate has dropped from 20 mills to 10, but property values have doubled thanks to the general rise in home prices (termed “revaluations” by the assessor’s office), so the rate is more appropriately captured below by the “Net of Revaluations” line. That line is then adjusted for school enrollment (the red line), and inflation (the heavier blue line).

There are three important caveats to the above statements: 1.) school taxes are lower on average, but if your home has increased in value by more than about 110% since 1993, then you will be paying more for schools; 2.) it is the schools portion of property taxes that is lower on average; the remaining portion of property taxes that pays for the city, Dane County, Wisconsin, and MATC, has risen; 3.) other sources of Madison school funding (state and federal funds, and grants and fees) have also gone up; (I have not done the much more complicated calculation of real increase in funding there).
That the infamous schools’ portion of property taxes has declined over these past 15 years is quite a surprising result, and certainly counterintuitive to what one might expect. How is this possible? First, the school finance structure put in place by the state years ago has worked, at least as far as holding down property taxes. The current structure allows about a 2% increase in expense each year, consistent with the CPI (Consumer Price Index) at the state level. (In fact, local funding of the MMSD has increased from $150 million in 1993 to $209 million in 2007, equivalent to about a 2.4% increase each year.) Of course, the problem is that same structure allows for a 3.8% wage hike for teachers if districts wish to avoid arbitration, an aspect that has essentially set an effective floor on salary increases (with salaries & benefits representing 84% of the district budget). The difference between the revenue increases and the pay increases, about 1-2% annually, is why we face these annual painful budget quandaries that can only be met by cuts in school services, or by a referendum permitting higher school costs, and taxes.
The second reason today’s property taxes are lower than they have been historically is growth, in the form of new construction (i.e. new homes & buildings, as well as remodelings). What we each pay in school property taxes is the result of a simple fraction: the numerator is the portion of school expenses that is paid through local property taxes, while the denominator is the tax base for the entire city (actually the portion of Madison and neighboring communities where kids live within the MMSD). The more the tax base grows, the larger the denominator, and the more people and places to share the property taxes with. Since 1993, new construction in Madison has consistently grown at about 3% per year. Indeed, since 1980 no year has ever seen new construction less than 2.3% nor more than 3.9%. So every year, your property taxes are reduced about 3% thanks to all the new construction in town. I leave it to the reader to speculate how much the pace of new construction and revaluations will decline if the schools here should decline in quality.
FYI, the figure below shows how new construction and revaluations have behaved in Madison since 1984, as well as total valuations (which is the sum of the two).

Referendum Discussion: Vicki McKenna & Don Severson

Download or listen to this 15MB mp3 audio file.

  • $367M+ Budget notes and links
  • Don Severson’s memo to the Madison School Board on the current financial situation.
  • Marj Passman and Don Severson discuss school finance with Mitch Henck.
  • Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s budget and recommendations memorandum to the School board (1MB PDF):

    In 1993, three pieces of legislation were enacted by the State of Wisconsin directly affecting school districts throughout the state. These pieces of legislation created revenue limits, created the state’s commitment to two·thirds funding, and created the qualified economic offer (QEO) in Wisconsin. Since 1993 revenue limits in Wisconsin have allowed the Madison Metropolitan School District to increase revenues annually by 2.2% on average. Conversely the QEO requires school boards to offer a comprehensive salary and benefit package to certified teaching staff of not less than 3.8% annually to avoid binding arbitration. Recognizing that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s budget is comprised of 84% salary and benefits, it must be recognized that while our revenues increase annually by 2.2%, the largest portion of our budget is mandated to minimally increase by 3.8%. Due to these competing pieces of legislation, the Board of Education since 1993 has reduced program and services by over $60 million to comply with state mandated revenue limits, of which $35 million has occurred within the past five years.
    Since the 1992·93 School Year the Madison Metropolitan School District has increased the total tax levy by $74,944,431 through the projected 2008·09 property tax levy. This amounts to an average annual increase of 2.56% since the 1992·93 School Year (see Attachment A). During that same time frame from 1992·93 through the projections for the 2008·09 property tax rate, the Madison Metropolitan School District has decreased the total tax rate from $20.69 to a projected rate of $9.92 for the 2008·09 School Year (see Attachment B).

    Nerad also posted a 3 year financial forecast (250K PDF)

  • City of Madison Assessor: 2008 Madison Property Tax base (PDF)
  • A look at the growth in Madison’s tax base: In 1990, the City of Madison included 40,069 parcels, a number that grew to 64,976 in 2005. Assessment and parcel growth mitigates tax levy increases, or allows it to decline (though this of course, depends on the real estate market along with tax policies).

WI State Budget Republican K-12 Proposed Funding – Bad for Children and WI’s Economic Future

Please write/call legislatures ASAP – the legislature plans to take up the proposed budget this coming week, and the proposed budget for education is a disaster for our children’s future and our state’s economic health. Schultz (WI State Senator, Republican Leader in the Senate): http://www.legis.state.wi.us/senate/sen17/sen17.html Gard (WI State Representative, Wi State Assembly Speaker): http://www.legis.state.wi.us/assembly/asm89/asm89.html Doyle: … Continue reading WI State Budget Republican K-12 Proposed Funding – Bad for Children and WI’s Economic Future

School Tax Bill Increase Modest / Board Votes to Go Ahead with Leopold Elementary New School Design

School Tax Bill Increase Modest Tuesday, October 26, 2004 By Lee Sensenbrenner The Capital Times After a year of budget cutting and no referendums, Madison property taxpayers will see a modest increase in what they’ll pay for public schools next year. For the owner of the house that perfectly follows the city’s statistical averages, rising … Continue reading School Tax Bill Increase Modest / Board Votes to Go Ahead with Leopold Elementary New School Design