Property taxpayers in the city of Waupaca received a second tax bill this week after a clerical error was discovered on the first one.
The corrected tax bills were mailed Monday, Dec. 12, several days after the first ones had been mailed.
“It’s a terrible mistake. I apologize for the error. It came out of my office,” City Administrator Henry Veleker said Monday afternoon.
He said a number was transposed during the certification process.
“Every year, it’s the city’s responsibility for getting tax information to the county,” he said.
That information includes the levies for the city, school district, county, Fox Valley Technical College and the state.
The tax bills for city property taxpayers were then printed, based on the information that had been provided to the county treasurer’s office.
“I got a call from a taxpayer this morning, saying it just didn’t look right,” Veleker said.
The taxpayer was particularly questioning the city portion of the tax bill.
Veleker immediately followed up to find the error, which had resulted in an overall city tax levy that was reduced by about 13 percent from the previous year’s tax bill.
The clerical error resulted in the city of Waupaca portion of the bill being understated. Thus, the city tax levy amount was incorrect.
Property taxpayers in the city will still see an overall tax bill that remains less than the previous year’s bill. An owner of a $100,000 home will see his taxes reduced from last year by $6.79.
“I’m thankful to the taxpayer for alerting us so early. The city, working with the Waupaca County Treasurer’s Office, has been able to react quickly to correct the error,” Veleker said.
He said that in consulting with the county treasurer, the decision was made to send out new tax bills.
While state law allows municipalities to recoup dollars in the following fiscal year, in cases such as this, Veleker said that if the error had not been found, the city would have collected $540,000 less than needed to meet its budget.
“It’s too big of a number,” Veleker said. “We decided to own up to it and take the criticism. It needed to be corrected.”
He advises city taxpayers to hold off on paying their taxes until they receive the corrected bill. The second bills were expected to arrive mid week.
Those who have already paid their bills will have an additional balance due.
“I apologize to some who came in right away to pay their bill. This means they will have to pay the balance,” Veleker said.
In a press release issued Monday afternoon, the city of Waupaca apologized for any confusion and inconvenience that has resulted from this error.
“In a time when people don’t trust their government and have a lack of faith in what we do, those who like to complain – we’ve given them something to complain about,” Veleker said. “People make mistakes. It’s a very visible mistake. We will change how we do it next year to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
He said another set of eyes will look at the numbers during the certification process, with a review of those numbers also taking place in person with the county treasurer’s office.
Having to mail out a second tax bill has resulted in an additional cost for the city.
“To print them and mail them out with the press release will amount to a little over a $1,000,” Veleker said.