The Village of Waunakee’s revaluation of residential and commercial properties has been completed, and in some cases is raising alarm as the increase in property assessments has risen by an average of 22.8 percent, according to village staff.
But property owners are cautioned against taking the 2018 mill rate and multiplying it with the new assessment to arrive at their property taxes to be owed in December.
“That is no longer valid,” said Village Clerk Caitlin Stene. Both Stene and village Finance Director Renee Meinholz note that mill rate is unknown as the budget has not been completed.
The state of Wisconsin restricts levy increases, and Meinholz said as the values rise, it’s expected the mill rate could go down.
“Some people’s taxes will go up, some will go down,” she said. “The point would be to spread the taxes around fairly.”
Wisconsin requires municipalities to have all properties assessed within 10 percent of the full market value. In 2018, the village’s assessment value was 85.8 percent of that market value, triggering the revaluation.
Waunakee’s assessor, Associated Appraisal Consultants, conducted an interim market update, using existing property records, building plans that show square footage and building permits to update the existing property records, according to Stene.
In the Town of Westport, a more thorough revaluation is underway, with the assessors viewing the interior and exterior of all homes and commercial properties. Westport also contracts with Associated Appraisal.
Westport’s administrator, clerk-treasurer and attorney, Tom Wilson, is a Waunakee resident and serves on the village’s Board of Review, where residents can object to their assessments if they believe the assessor’s information is inaccurate. He calls the revaluation in Westport a “full boat reval.”
“Every property is going to get reviewed. We have a small army of assessors going to visit all properties in or out as best they can and make sure they’re not missing anything,” he said.
Wilson agrees that just because a home is assessed at a higher amount, the taxes on it will not necessarily rise.
“Taxes will stay the same if not go down because more value is being spread across more homes and businesses,” he said.
Instead, taxes will be spread more fairly, and unless an addition or an upgrade has been made to a home, or there is a reason for a tax increase, the new assessment should have little effect.
“In Westport, people will see a tiny increase – and it’s tiny because it’s such a small percentage of their tax bill – because we’re doing some borrowing to fix our roads,” Wilson said.
Already, assessors in Waunakee have held Open Book appointments with residents to go over their assessments. The first was Aug. 1, and another is planned for Aug. 7 from 3-7 p.m. Residents who wish to schedule an appointment are asked to call Associated Appraisal at (920) 749-1995.
Board of Review, where residents can object to their new assessment, is scheduled for Aug. 27 and is also by appointment only.
Stene describes this as a “quasi-judicial process” where those property owners are sworn in.
“The assessor is assumed correct unless the property owner presents evidence to the contrary,” Stene said.
One example might be if the assessor’s information shows a home as having two bathrooms, but it has only one.
Anyone who wants to object to a new assessment is required to obtain a form from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue at revenue.wi.gov/forms/govtvc/pa-115a.pdf and return it to the clerk’s office at least 48 hours prior to the Aug. 27 meeting.
Stene said beforehand, she encourages property owners to have a conversation with the assessor.