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Proposed city budget sees lower tax rate
City mill rate down from previous year despite higher assessments

MONROE — Residents who expressed concerns that their taxes would increase as a result of a recent citywide revaluation which increased home values by an average of 16 percent might see the opposite if the Monroe Common Council approves the proposed 2019 budget.

The proposed assessment changes drew outrage from a number of residents who sought changes to the totals Associated Appraisal Consultants Inc. of Appleton assigned to their homes. They assumed because assessments were increasing that their taxes would as well. 

However, in the proposed 2019 city budget, the mill rate of $9.82 per $1,000 of home value is a decrease in the tax rate for homeowners. Residents will pay $982 per $100,000 of home value in city taxes. The previous rate was $10.47, or $1,047 per $100,000 of value. 

During a meeting of the council Oct. 1, City Clerk Arianna Voegeli said about 360 appointments were made by homeowners to meet and discuss the changes with appraisers Sept. 12. At that level of discussion, 270 assessments were altered. The adjustments were made to address discrepancies between the appraisal and homeowners’ knowledge of the buildings, including quality and updates to the residences.

According to the Associated Appraisal website, “a revaluation is the process of determining the current market value of all taxable property in a municipality,” which includes a physical review of land and its improvements. It notes that the point of a revaluation is to equalize assessments to ensure each property “bears only its fair share of the property tax burden.”

The changes to homes as the result of the appointments that day equaled more than $4.9 million. Generally, 10 percent of those will still appeal with the city Board of Review. Voegeli noted that the assessor, Ryan Anderson of Associated Appraisal Consultants, said these numbers were fairly common to other municipalities’ revaluation processes. 

A total of eight objections were heard by the Board of Review on Sept. 27 at the westside fire station. Of those, two adjustments were made; one for downtown business Suisse Haus and the other for a residence within the city. Voegeli, who serves as a member of the board, said the group decided to adjust the business’ value because of comparative sales of properties within the area. The residence was changed because notes on the assessment mislabeled its quality type and did not factor in needed interior upgrades to the building.

Other residents scheduled the appointments to argue that their homes were not properly assessed by the company, pointing to deficiencies in their homes in hopes of reducing the value of the property.

Larry Van Horn, who lives on 13th Avenue, was surprised to find the home he had paid roughly $14,000 for in 1969 was now worth $88,000, though did not have an alternative amount to offer to the board. He simply knew the location was problematic because of the embankments along the street and the unfinished, limestone basement. The roof was also in need of repairs, he said. 

“The garage should be worth more than the house,” Van Horn said. 

Anderson told the board that the home, originally built in 1841, had comparable properties along the 500 block of 17th Avenue, the 1200 block of 16th Street and the 1400 block of 13th Avenue which sold recently for similar amounts. Anderson said the company found the assessment was fair and equitable.

The board upheld the findings of the assessor, citing insufficient evidence from Van Horn to reduce the projected value of the home.

Janet Lefevre, a resident on 14th Street in Monroe, informed the board that her four-bedroom home built in 1938 had a shared driveway which proved dangerous and that the partially-finished basement tends to flood in heavy rain.

She noted the driveway was in “deplorable conditions” and that the neighbor which shares the outlet has no interest in improving it. Her home had already received a deduction in value after an open book appointment, from $137,000 to $132,000, but she argued the value of the over 1,600-square-foot house should only be valued at $125,000. 

Anderson said sales of other houses, which Lefevre argued were inefficient comparable properties because of their distance from her home, were similar. He added that sales of homes in recent years have increased at an average annual rate of 5 percent, which is in line with the assessment of Lefevre’s property. The board determined the assessor correct and denied the request. 

Though the assessments may not have increased taxes for homeowners, the city budget looks to make cuts in personnel. The goal is to avoid a citywide referendum, which the city would face if it spends “another penny,” Rath said.

Council members will consider adoption of the proposed 2019 budget following a public hearing during their meeting Nov. 5 at City Hall.