Roads and taxes
People in Wascott could be facing a higher-than-average property tax levy increase this year. However, it will be up to the people of the southern Douglas County town to decide. Voters won't have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. The i...
People in Wascott could be facing a higher-than-average property tax levy increase this year.
However, it will be up to the people of the southern Douglas County town to decide.
Voters won't have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. The issue will be decided at the annual town meeting Tuesday.
While state-imposed property tax levy limits require voter approval, towns with fewer than 2,000 people can decide the issue at the annual town meeting if the town board adopts a resolution stating its intent, said Rick Olin of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in Madison.
The board adopted that resolution last week.
Sandy Anderson, who owns property on Whitefish Lake in Wascott, said she wouldn't have been aware of the proposal if she hadn't attended last week's meeting out of concern about park proposals on the lake. She launched an e-mail campaign in Wascott to encourage people to attend the meeting.
"We the people vote the levy up or down, not the supervisors," she wrote in the e-mail.
The proposed increase, which would set the town's levy at $550,348 in 2008, comes just after the town was revaluated, she said. Anderson said she understands that increased property values can result in lower mill rates, but the proposed increase -- $17,762 more than the state allows -- will still drive up property taxes.
The board adopted a resolution proposing a levy increase of 7.32 percent, exceeding the state imposed levy limit of 3.86 percent.
The addition revenue is needed because of rising fuel costs and to repair roads, said Town Chairman Bernie Bergman.
"We added (it) to keep up our roads, Bergman said. "We have 202 miles of roads in Wascott, the most roads in the state of Wisconsin of any town ... We needed to upgrade our maintenance. We can't even keep the cracks sealed or seal coat, let alone get new blacktop in there."
The town board has budgeted for $710,220 for next year, an increase in spending for highways of about $43,000 over this year.
"We have so many new developments, we should be doing to take care of a lot of these places," Bergman said. "There are roads that have 30 places on them that we're grading all the time."
However, even with the proposed increase, the town's budget won't go that far, he said.
The budget proposal to be considered during a special town meeting Tuesday would increase spending by $21,200 for public safety and $7,000 for culture, recreation and education.
To ease the burden on taxpayers, the board is proposing a $36,210 in cuts for general government expenses.
However, the net change still results in the town's estimated 800 households picking up a share of proposed $37,555 increase in the levy this year.
"You get to vote," Anderson said.
Shelley Nelson is available at email@example.com or (715) 395-5022.