Wisconsin Taxpayer Magazine A Recap of 2011-12 Property Taxes

August 2012  •  Vol. 80 No. 8
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  • Summary
  • Press Release
  • Property tax levies totaled $10.38 billion in 2012, up 0.2% from 2011. After subtracting more than $1 billion dollars in state-funded credits, net property taxes were $9.36 billion, also 0.2% more than the prior year. One-year changes varied by taxing unit: schools, -1.0%; counties, 1.1%; municipalities, 1.6%; and technical colleges, 1.8%. Net property taxes on the median value home statewide rose 23.5% over the last ten years. However, both the 2012 tax on the median value home and ten-year change varied widely by county.

  • Dale J. Knapp or Todd A. Berry

    State-Imposed Limits Slow Property Tax Growth in 2012

    Final Figures Show Statewide Property Taxes Increased 0.2%

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    MADISON—With municipal levy figures recently finalized, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) reports that state taxpayers paid $9.36 billion in net property taxes in 2012. Statewide levies rose 0.2%, the smallest increase since 1997. In its latest report, "A Recap of 2011-12 Property Taxes," WISTAX also reviews the impact of tighter state limits on local property taxes. WISTAX is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to public policy research and citizen education.

    Municipal property taxes are allowed to increase at the greater of net new construction or a set percentage (0% for 2012). Overall, municipal levies rose 1.6% to $2.46 billion. About two-thirds of the state’s 1,850 municipalities increased levies less than 1%.

    Of the 50 largest municipalities, levies were up the most in Middleton (11.5%), Manitowoc (11.0%), Stevens Point (8.1%), Mount Pleasant (6.4%), and Watertown (4.3%). Property taxes decreased the most in West Bend (-4.6%), Franklin (-2.4%), and Mequon (-0.3%), all in southeastern Wisconsin.

    County tax levies rose 1.1% to $1.97 billion, which was less than the average annual increase during 2000-11 (4.4%). Of the state’s 72 counties, 17 reduced their levies from 2011 and four left them unchanged. Only five counties increased property taxes more than 3%, with Crawford the highest at 6.3%.

    Lawmakers reduced, for the first time, per student revenue limits on K-12 school districts, resulting in a 1.0% decline in statewide school property taxes, from $4.7 billion last year to $4.6 billion. This was the first drop since a 0.5% reduction in 2006. Tax changes varied by district due to the effects of the school aid formula and to new or expiring referenda. Levies increased in 177 school districts and decreased in 247. The largest increase was in Highland (22.3%), and the largest decrease was in Rio (-24.7%).

    In 2012, technical colleges were not allowed to increase levies or rates above 2011 levels unless voters approved. Technical college levies statewide rose 1.8% in 2012 to $771.3 million. No levy increase exceeded 2%, except in the Madison Area Technical College district, where property taxes were up 14.7% due to passage of a referendum. If the Madison district is excluded, technical college taxes statewide fell 0.2%. Five of the state’s 16 technical college districts lowered levies from 2011 amounts.

    A free copy of The Wisconsin Taxpayer, "A Recap of 2011-12 Property Taxes," is available by visiting www.wistax.org; emailing wistax@wistax.org; calling 608.241.9789; or writing WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Ave., Madison, WI 53704-5033.

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