- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s counties would take over assessment of property taxes from smaller communities under a provision included in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal.

The state’s 72 counties would take over assessments for municipalities with populations under 39,000. Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and other larger cities would continue their own property tax assessments.

A system of 1,851 taxing districts in Wisconsin would be consolidated at county assessment offices. Counties would take control of assessments by the start of 2017.

“We’ve got a proposal here that generates costs savings at the local level and at the state level,” Department of Revenue Secretary Richard Chandler said. “It will also generate an improved quality of property assessments and a clear and understandable process.”

A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1CmSjGI ) investigation found problems with uniformity and fairness in assessing property taxes around the state. Twenty percent or more of residential taxes were being paid by the wrong people in dozens of communities.

The newspaper’s investigation also found most municipalities have cut costs by contracting outsiders to do property assessments. Rob Henken, president of the Public Policy Forum, said many use the same contractor, and consolidation would be more efficient.

Some city officials say they shouldn’t have to give up property assessments, including Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto. The city near Milwaukee has a population of about 38,000.

“It may not be an all bad idea to have the county do assessments for (smaller municipalities),” Ponto said. “But where you have a community that has a good record on assessments and has a good staff, I don’t think that should be disrupted.”

Chandler said some municipalities might get to opt out of moving to county assessments, and that changes to the budget’s proposal are inevitable.

Revaluations are currently done at varying times by communities. Under the new system, municipalities would have to assess properties at 100 percent of market value by the time counties take over.

After counties take control, such reassessments would take place every year.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com


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