When Waupaca County residents open their next tax bill, they will see, on average, a 1.1 percent increase in the county’s portion of their 2013 property taxes.
At the same time, they will also see a 1.4 percent drop in the equalized value of their property and a 2.23 percent hike in their mill rate.
Waupaca County plans to levy a total of $23.4 million in local property taxes to support $72.18 million in total spending in 2013.
The county’s combined tax rate is rising from $6.29 to $6.43 per $1,000 in equalized value.
In a report presented to the Waupaca County Board Tuesday, Oct. 31, County Finance Director Heidi Dombrowski explained how dropping property values are affecting county tax rates.
For the third year in a row, Waupaca County’s total equalized property values have declined.
From 2003 to 2008, area property values steadily climbed climbed at an average rate of 6.36 percent per year. In that seven-year period, the county’s total equalized property value grew from $2.75 billion to S3.98 billion.
In 2009, the county’s total equalized value grew by 0.4 percent, then began declining.
The total equalized value of all property in Waupaca County now stands at $3.77 billion, less than it was five years ago.
In the past, rising property values meant local governments could raise the tax levy without raising the tax rate.
Elected officials would declare they dropped the tax rate, but homeowners would see higher tax bills because their homes had higher values.
At the same time property values were rising, the tax burden was being spread over a growing tax base due to new construction.
Under current state law, the county can increase its operating levy by an amount based on new construction.
Although the county’s total equalized value dropped by $54 million, there was $22.3 million in new construction in 2011, according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR).
The DOR calculated a 0.58 percent increase in total property due to net new construction for 2012, which would allow the county to levy an additional $127,986.
By contrast, there was a 2.29 percent increase in new construction, which allowed for a $412,604 levy increase.
Of the overall $254,636 increase in the county’s overall tax levy, the operating budget accounts for $128,801 and the debt service budget accounts for $141,054.
The special purpose levy for library aids will increase by $27,781 and the special purpose levy for bridge aids will decrease by $43,000.
Where the money goes
With combined 2013 expenditures totaling more than $20 million, the Waupaca County Highway Department is the single largest line item on the county budget.
However, revenues from state and federal aids, as well as service contracts for town roads, bring in nearly $18 million.
The county has an additional $4.75 million in road projects that are funded primarily through bonding.
Excluding the debt service payments on bonding for the major road construction projects, the highway department is relying on $2.2 million from the tax levy, an increase of 2.25 percent.
With expenditures of approximately $18.84 million, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the second largest item on the county budget.
Of that amount, nearly $12.56 million comes from state and federal grants and service fees.
DHHS relies on $3.27 million in local property taxes, a figure which has not increased since 2009.
More than half of the county’s $16.58 million operating levy goes to public safety, which is primarily the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department.
The county proposes to spend $10.47 million on public safety in 2013, with just over $1.7 million in revenue from the state and out-of-county inmates.
The sheriff’s department will see its share of the tax levy increase by nearly $190,000 in 2013.
As a budget line item, general government includes the offices of the county clerk, county treasurer, register of deeds, clerk of courts, coroner, district attorney, corporation counsel, circuit courts, land information, finance and personnel, as well as county board per diems and building maintenance.
The county has budgeted nearly $6.4 million in general government expenditures with nearly $2.8 million in revenues from fees and state aid. The impact on the tax levy will be decreased by 1 percent in 2013.
Lakeview Manor, the county nursing home located in Weyauwega, is budgeted for $3,95 million in expenditures and $3.1 million in revenues. About $850,000 in local property taxes will support the facility, which is about the same as what the facility needed last year.
The county will spend nearly $5.7 million on debt service in 2013, which represents a 2.54 percent increase in tax dollars going toward debt.
A public hearing on the 2013 Waupaca County budget is slated for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the county board room of the courthouse, 811 Harding St., Waupaca.