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Local municipalities see tax rate ups, downs

Statewide, property taxes inched up in 2019, about 1.2 percent to $9.9 billion, according to the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

This is likely the scenario that will play out across Marathon County this year..

An analysis of 2019 property tax rates and ratios compiled by the Marathon County Treasurer’s Office shows 54 of 148 taxing jurisdictions saw tax rates increase this tax year, while the balance saw a tax rate decrease.

The biggest tax increase among all taxing jurisdictions was the portion of the town of Rib Falls lying in Athens School District.

Town chairman Bill Wunsch said the tax increase was the people’s choice.

He said town residents gathered in October at special meeting and, by majority vote, agreed to raise town taxes by 30 percent.

“That equates to about $45 on a $100,000 home,” he said. “A majority of people approved it.”

While local town taxes went up, Athens school taxes would also rise signficantly. The main reason was the school district paying for vouchers used by students to attend St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, Athens.

The Athens school tax increase boosted property taxes across the district. Among the top 10 county jurisdictions with tax increases, eight are in Athens School District municipalities, including Athens, Bern, Halsey, Hamburg, Wien, Rietbrock and Johnson.

Wunsch said the extra property taxes will be used mainly for town road maintenance and capital purchases.

“We are behind on our roads,” he said. “And we need to replace a truck that’s at the end of its life. We will also pay for ditching and brushing plus set money aside for replacing older equipment.”

Wunsch said his town’s budget will take a hit in having to pay $100,000 as its share of a bridge replacement on 18th Ave.

The treasurer’s office report shows that municipalities in Athens, Wittenberg- Birnamwood and Marathon school districts generally had higher property tax rates. Municipalities in the Edgar, Stratford, Mosinee, Wausau, DC Everest and Abbotsford school districts generally saw falling property tax rates.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum reported school districts, counties and tech colleges all increased levies this year by single digit percentages.

It said Wisconsin school districts levied $5.21 billion in 2019-20 property taxes, a 4.5 percent increase over 201819.

Counties increased their property taxes by 2.2 percent statewide. County levies rose to $2.28 billion.

Tech colleges raised their levies 3.1 percent over last year to $457.2 million.