Focus Newsletter Forecast: New property tax bills to average 1.6% increase in 2016-17

December 12, 2016  •  Vol. 2016 No. 25
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  • Summary
  • Press Release
  • While property tax bills are still being calculated, WISTAX projects 2016-17 bills will increase an average of 1.6% this year, the highest since 2009-10. Net levies statewide will total $9.78 billion. School taxes increased least (0.1%), while technical college taxes grew the most (4.2%). The results demonstrate how state aid and tax-limit policies can produce inconsistent outcomes.

  • Todd A. Berry or Dale Knapp

    First Estimate: Total Increases on Arriving Property Tax Bills to Average 1.6%

    WISTAX Researchers Project 2016-17 Statewide Levy Increases

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    MADISON—Total property taxes on bills arriving across Wisconsin will increase 1.6%, according to an exclusive estimate from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), a nonpartisan policy research organization.
    The 2016-17 net levy is expected to total $9.78 billion compared to $9.62 billion last year. This year’s change is the largest since 2009-10 when net property taxes rose 2.8%. However, it is similar to the 1.4% increases reported in 2012-13 and again last year.
    “Our track record on projecting property tax levies for the coming year has been good.” But WISTAX President Todd A. Berry cautioned that “tax changes in individual communities can vary by community and even by neighborhood.”
    Levy increases also vary by unit of local government. For example, the smallest tax increase is coming in school districts, just 0.1% to $4.86 billion. The 16 technical college districts combined to had the largest increase this year, 4.2% to $434 million.
    Counties raised property taxes 2.2% to $2.13 billion. And WISTAX researchers project that levies in towns, villages, and cities will rise 2.5% to $2.67 billion. Final municipal figures will not be available until spring.
    Among the 422 public school districts, 211 cut property taxes, 208 raised them, and three held them flat. Because of state-imposed levy limits, only 62 districts—or, about one in seven—increased levies by 5% or more. Of the state’s 15 largest districts, Eau Claire (8.2%) and Oshkosh (6.5%) had the largest increases, while Sheboygan (-8.1%) and Milwaukee (-7.2%) had the largest cuts.
    Technical college tax increases ranged from 0.0% in Waukesha to 9.1% in Madison and 9.9% in Northeast Wisconsin (Green Bay). Nine of the 16 districts raised taxes between 1.8% and 3.9%.
    Further information on the new tax estimates is available in the just-released WISTAX report, “Forecast: New Property Tax Bills to Average 1.6% Increase in 2016-17,” which is available by visiting; emailing; calling 608.241.9789; or writing WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Ave., Madison, WI 504-5033. o

    (Editor’s Note: An electronic version of this release is available at



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