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Quest for Transparency - Reassessment Letters!

Hello everyone,

This weekend was very busy for me. I was part of the Kewaunee Rotary Club team who ran the concession stand at this Sunday’s Music in the Park. This year Miller Lite outsold Busch Light—who knew? Pulled pork was a hit and the band was well-liked with people even sitting through a brief rain to hear them play.

Now I had gotten my reassessment in the mail on Saturday. I figured this would be a topic of conversation, but at Music in the Park I realized this was going to be a big conversation when I spoke with an outraged resident for at least ten minutes. Then that conversation continued at the Fitness Center Monday morning. So in case you’re not aware, the property reassessments are here in Kewaunee. And there is good news and bad news. The housing market has been very strong in Kewaunee over the past four years. This is due in part because we had such a horrible housing market after the nuclear power plant closed. It was hard to sell a house in Kewaunee at any price in 2014. But in the past two years, houses have been selling like hot cakes. And for much higher prices too, which is good news. Congratulations, your house is worth more!

But here is the other side of the coin. And it’s different for everyone. If the percentage increase in your house assessment was higher than the average Kewaunee home, your taxes will go up. On the other hand, if the percentage increase was lower than other homes, your taxes will either go down or stay about the same. For example, if all the homes in Kewaunee increased by 30 percent in value, taxes would not really change for anyone. But if my assessment went up by 55 percent, and the average increase was 30 percent, my taxes will definitely go up. So whether your taxes go up or down depends on how much your home value grew in comparison to the rest of the town. It would be helpful to know the average percent increase for the city of Kewaunee, but that figure has not been made available. Either way, your house is likely worth more than it was three years ago.

At the Fitness Center, property reassessments were on everyone’s mind. A few people were quite hot about it. It’s often the case that a higher assessment can mean higher taxes, but that doesn’t mean the city is getting more tax money. Wisconsin limits the amount of taxes a city can levy based on a levy limit formula. The city can only raise the amount of total taxes according to this formula. This formula determines the size of the tax pie that will be divided amongst the tax payers in Kewaunee. Your individual tax share is determined by your assessed valuation.

Your assessment, as well as all your neighbors in the city were done by a company, Peterson Appraisals from Deerbrook, WI. An outside assessor is used to assure a more impartial process. Peterson Appraisals is required by Wisconsin law to follow certain state regulations on appraisals. If you think your appraisal has misinformation on it, there is a date for “Open Book” at City Hall. My letter says this will happen July 20th between 4pm and 6pm. Then the Board of Review is scheduled for August 11th. You have to go to Open Book in order to get a Board of Review appointment.

And remember, the good news is your house is worth more now. Also good news, the city can’t raise property taxes for the city as a whole more than what is allowed by the state’s formula no matter what you are assessed. If your individual taxes go up a lot, then someone else’s went down. Residents should want new premium houses built is to absorb a higher percentage of taxes. However, cheap new homes and slum lords pay lower taxes and thereby raise everyone else’s taxes. New single family homes that are worth more than the average existing Kewaunee homes will lower taxes for most people.

Thanks for listening,


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