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Tax bills say it all - then again, maybe not

Rate rises in Greenfield more than West Allis

Dec. 13, 2011

People will soon see how the mix of tax levies and credits actually affects them as property tax bills start arriving at area homes and businesses this week.

West Allis property owners made out better than Greenfield owners did in terms of tax rate hikes, but the reason why requires some explanation. Even then, Greenfield's combined tax rates are lower than the West Allis combined rate.

The owners of homes assessed at $150,000 in West Allis will pay $4.50 less than they paid this year. But those same homeowners in Greenfield will pay about $90 more if they live in the Greenfield School District and $28 more if they are in the Whitnall School District.

Examining Greenfield's taxes

Greenfield's combined 2012 property tax rate is $25.30 per $1,000 of assessed value. That's up 60 cents per $1,000 from the 2011 rate of $24.70, or a 2.3 percent increase. Those extra 60 cents are enough to boost property taxes $90 for homes and businesses assessed at $150,000.

It's not that the city and schools in Greenfield are spending wildly.

The real reason Greenfield's taxes will slam into the pocketbooks of Greenfield folks is that areawide entities are charging more. Rates are up for Milwaukee County, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and MMSD.

Nearly three-fourths of that 60-cent rate increase is from a 34-cent hike for Milwaukee County (a 7.7 percent increase) and a 9-cent hike for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (a 6.3 percent increase). Together, that's 43 cents.

Also contributing to the 60-cent hike are the city, up 16 cents, and MATC, up 6 cents. School district tax hikes actually declined.

The reason that their rates rose so much for Greenfield and not for West Allis has to do with the valuations for each city, said Milt Vandermeuse, West Allis finance director.

Although the answer is convoluted, he said, "Those are the right rates."

Offsetting that somewhat are the Greenfield School District rate doing down 3 cents and the Whitnall rate going down 52 cents.

The lottery and first dollar credits will be about the same as this year for Greenfield School District properties, but they will be about $11 more in the Whitnall district. The credits are calculated by the state using its own formula.

Evening out in West Allis

The West Allis combined tax rate is 3 cents per $1,000 of assessed value higher than this year, bringing the property tax tab up $4.50 for the owner of a home assessed at $150,000.

However, larger lottery and first dollar credits - which are a combined $9 higher for 2012 - will more than wipe out that increase. Because of the larger credits, all taxpayers with properties assessed at less than $300,000 will pay less. That $300,000 is the break-even point where the higher tax bill is $9 and the increased credits are $9.

In terms of percentage, tax rates for the city (up 1.5 percent) and Milwaukee County (up 0.7 percent) were offset by decreases from the schools, MATC and the state. The rate for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District stayed the same.

TAX RATES PER $1,000 ASSESSED VALUE

GREENFIELDWEST ALLIS
2012 RateChange from 20112012 rateChange from 2011
City rate$7.21Up 16 cents or 2.3%$9.75Up 14 cents or 1.5%
School rate with state credit subtractedGreenfield district $9.70 (before credit $11.45)Down 3 cents$8.40 (before credit $9.72)Down 6 cents
Whitnall District $7.77 (before credit $9.50)Down 52 cents
17 centsNo change16 centsDown 1 cent
Milwaukee County$4.74Up 34 cents, 7.7%$4.52Up 3 cents
MMSD$1.52Up 9 cents, 6.3%$1.45No change
MATC$1.96Up 6 cents, 3%$1.86Down 7 cents or 3.6%
TOTAL RATEGreenfield Schools $25.30Whitnall Schools $23.35$26.14Up 3 cents
Gross tax on a home assessed at $150,000 Greenfield School District $3,795Whitnall District $3,503$3,921Net tax after lottery, first dollar creditsGreenfield School District $3,615Whitnall School District $3,353$3,756

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