Douglas County’s tax levy will increase in 2021.
However, the tax rate for county services will be down slightly because of higher property values.
The average tax rate across the county will drop to $4.41 per $1,000 of property value, down from $4.72 in 2020. Towns and villages pay a higher tax rate to cover the cost of library services and bridge aid.
“From net new construction, this is the highest we’ve seen in ever,” said Ann Doucette, county administrator.
The 1.38% increase in new construction translates into an allowable $222,000 increase in $58.8 million revenue and spending. Overall, the tax levy will increase $489,611 — a 2.84% increase over this year — to cover debt repayment in 2021.
Debt payments are excluded from the state property tax freeze.
The overall tax levy will be about $17.7 million in 2021.
“Sales taxes are up slightly,” Doucette said. “State shared revenue is flat ... Some things we’re watching are the forest timber markets and the status of the mills. The forestry transfer is the same as last year.”
The sale of timber from county forest lands will contribute $1.65 million to general operating expenses in 2021.
Doucette said while the pandemic has taken up some county time and put some things on the backburner this year, it has also saved the county money on travel as training and other matters have taken place by internet conferencing.
“One thing we’ll notice in the future, we’ll have savings because of Zoom and these types of things, for activities where you have to send someone out to get information,” Supervisor Nick Baker said. “People have computers, and I think it will save us a lot of travel time.”
It’s also presented some challenges with Verso shutting down, Doucette said.
According to County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert, chairman of the forestry committee, about 25% of timber sales from county forests were processed by Verso before the shutdown.
“We are realizing revenues in places we never thought — zoning and forestry camping permits,” Doucette said. “Spending is doing pretty well too.”
The proposed budget was approved by the administration committee Thursday, Sept. 24. It will be considered by the full county board at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.