The Waunakee school board approved the fourth and final draft of its 2019-20 budget this week. It has brought good news to property owners throughout the district.
The proposed tax-levy increase has dropped to 4 percent.
Meanwhile, the tax base has been estimated to increase by 3 percent. If the prediction holds true, then the school tax would increase by just 1 percent from the previous year.
“Increases in property value make the tax rate go down,” said business manager Steve Summers. “So a 4 percent property-tax-levy increase does not equate to a 4 percent increase on the school portion of your property-tax bill.”
Summers said credits will help to ease the burden as well.
“There’s something called a School Levy Tax Credit,” Summers said. “It gets calculated after the school board approves the levy, and is part of people’s tax bill. So we always want to make people aware of the fact that there’s a credit that shows up on their tax bill, too.”
The business manager also addressed the revaluation taking place in the Village of Waunakee and Town of Westport – and the concern caused by an anticipated increase in home values.
He explained that the process doesn’t affect the levy the district imposes on municipalities.
“We don’t tax based on assessed values,” Summers said. “We tax based on equalized value. In other words, we tax based on what the State of Wisconsin says the value is – not based on what a municipality says it is...So a reassessment, in and of itself, does not lead to more property taxes.”
However, it could change the way the municipalities spread the tax burden among their residents, he said.
“They calculate taxes against the values they have in their assessment,” Summers said. “So a reassessment does change the way an individual property is valued, and how it receives its taxes (from the municipality).”
Given that fact, Summers said it’s hard to predict the outcome.
“The school district is made up of seven different municipalities,” Summers said. “That makes it very difficult for an individual taxpayer to draw a conclusion about their bill.”
He said it is best to wait for the bill before jumping to any kind of conclusion.