Recently-released municipal equalized values from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue could impact how area communities divvy up emergency service costs in 2021.

In the Cambridge area, the Villages of Cambridge and Rockdale and Towns of Oakland, Christiana and Lake Mills split the cost of fire and EMS service five ways based on their equalized values.

The Village of Deerfield and Town and Village of Cottage Grove similarly share costs for Deer-Grove EMS based on their equalized values.

A municipality’s equalized value is the total amount of real estate and personal property value within its boundaries.

If a community sees a marked annual increase or decrease in its equalized value, that can affect how much it will owe for emergency services in the coming year in relation to its neighbors.

According to the Department of Revenue, the Town of Christiana’s equalized value rose about 4 percent in 2020; the Village of Cambridge rose 9 percent; the Village of Rockdale rose 2 percent; and the Town of Oakland rose 6 percent.

The Town of Lake Mills’ equalized value rose 21 percent in 2020. However, only a small fraction of its overall value is figured into the Cambridge-area emergency services calculation, making the impact of its rise likely negligible. Most of the Town of Lake Mills is tied into the Lake Mills Fire and EMS departments.

The Town of Cottage Grove, meanwhile, saw its equalized value rise about 8 percent in 2020, the Village of Cottage Grove rose 6 percent, and the Village of Deerfield rose 4 percent. Deer-Grove EMS also serves the towns of Deerfield and Pleasant Springs through a paid contract; those towns don’t figure into its equalized value formula.

Updated equalized values for municipalities statewide are released every fall by the Department of Revenue.

In 2020, based on their 2019 equalized values, 25 percent of the Cambridge Community Fire and EMS Commission’s $880,000 annual budget was funded by the Village of Cambridge. Another 49 percent was funded by the Town of Oakland, 20 percent by the Town of Christiana, 3.5 percent by the Town of Lake Mills and 2.5 percent by the Village of Rockdale.

The 2021 equalized values will affect not only the annual operating budget for Cambridge-area fire and EMS, but also how the cost of a proposed $6.5 million fire and EMS station expansion might be split between the five municipalities.

The Cambridge Community Fire and EMS Commission’s 2021 budget, recently submitted to the five municipalities for approval, is $998,000, a 12.3 percent increase over 2020.

Deer-Grove’s $1.37 million 2021 budget is a 20 percent increase over $1.14 million in 2020.

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