Net property taxes in Wisconsin rose 5.7% in 2008, the largest increase since 2005, the year before the recent levy limits on municipalities and counties were imposed. A new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) found that while gross property taxes climbed 6.2%, state lawmakers increased the school levy credit $79.3 million to $672.4 million to lessen the impact on property taxpayers. The new study, “The Property Tax in National Context,” notes that 2006 property taxes here were ninth highest nationally and higher than those in all surrounding states.
According to the new study, school levies rose the most, 7.4%. With the recent state budget delayed until October 2007, school aids were unchanged from 2006-07. Since school property taxes are tied to state aids through state-imposed revenue limits, the budget delay resulted in higher school property taxes, WISTAX said. Now in its 76th year, WISTAX is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-policy research organization dedicated to citizen education.
County and municipal levy increases were limited by state lawmakers to the greater of 3.86% or the increase in property values due to new construction. There were exceptions to the limits, particularly for new debt service. The WISTAX report noted that, with a slowing real estate market, statewide net new construction growth was 2.5%. However, municipal property taxes climbed 5.0%, and county levies were up 4.5%.
Among the three types of municipalities, municipal-purpose property tax levies in cities (5.3%) grew fastest, followed by villages (4.6%) and towns (4.2%). The report noted that the state’s two largest municipalities had above-average increases: Milwaukee was up 9.0%, while Madison’s municipal levy climbed 6.9%. The largest county increases were in Eau Claire (19.2%), Polk (13.5%), Door (12.4%), and Pierce (12.3%) counties.
Related: Wisconsin State Tax revenues up 2.9%.