(Horicon) Horicon taxpayers voiced their concerns with a spike on their tax bill during the public comment portion of Tuesday night’s common council meeting. While a part of the increase is attributable to the recent passage of a school funding referendum, the bulk is the result of a miscalculation on the part of the state.
The state Department of Revenue last year assigned around $18.8-million dollars in property value for the new John Deere expansion to the general tax base instead of the new Tax Increment Finance District #5. The inflated values of the general tax base led to artificially low 2017 tax bills. The state remedy was to allow a one-time increase on the city portion of 2018 tax bills to compensate. The $11.89-per-thousand-dollar mill rate adopted last month was an increase of $2.16, or 22-percent. City officials say that the owner of a $150-thousand-dollar home is paying $1783 for the city portion of their 2018 tax bill, with $324 directly attributable to the state error.
Among the 18 attendees Tuesday night was former Horicon Mayor Steve Neitzel who says a letter posted to the city website Monday should have gone out with the tax bill. Neitzel peppered the council with questions about what they knew and when, and how much was paid to each taxing jurisdiction. Neitzel was critical of city officials’ lack of transparency and said the new city website now has less information, did not have the budget posted and does not have the clerk-treasurer’s contact information. Other residents spoke of the tax increases impact on their family for Christmas.
In a letter posted to the city website (see below), Mayor Jim Grigg offered a timeline saying the city discovered the error in August of last year and the state offered the one-time correction as a solution in July of this year. Grigg acknowledges that the city should have notified taxpayers sooner but noted that the full impact was not understood until July.
City Treasurer Kristin Jacobson says because of the mistake, tax bills were lower than they should have been last year and, after next year, the overall three-year impact will essentially be flat, “all things being equal.”
Listen to last night’s meeting here*
*The audio varies in quality from person to person and there is some explicit language