By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – The Howard-Suamico School District has been receiving input from local residents concerned about rising property taxes.
The district wants to make residents aware of the fact that any rise in property taxes is not due to the referendum that passed in April, but due to rising property values.
“Property taxes are going up because community property values are going up,” said a letter from the school board sent to parents and staff on Dec. 12. “That said, increased property values also reflect a thriving community.”
The levy rate for 2019 was approved at $9.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This is the fourth year in a row where the rate has been locked in a $9.19.
In 2012, the rate was actually $9.75 per $1,000.
Matt Spets, assistant superintendent of operation, said it’s difficult to connect the district’s yearly budget to an individual tax bill, as there is no connection to the district’s budget process and the process used to establish a property’s estimated fair market value.
“The levy rate is the only variable of our property tax calculation under direct control of the Board of Education; however, it is not shown on our tax bills,” the letter read. “The HSSD portion of our property tax bill is calculated by taking the total estimated fair market value of our property, multiplied by the levy rate and subtracting the school levy tax credit.”
Therefore, when property is worth more, the owner of that property can expect to pay more in taxes.
“In a year-over-year scenario, it is our understanding that if a home or lot is worth more, and all respective taxing authorities have the same needs to fund their programs, the amount of taxes due for the home or lot will increase,” Spets said. “In terms of a school district’s impact, the state caps our revenue. Then, the state provides aid. In our case, our aid was reduced by approximately $1,272,000 this year. Essentially, we understand that our aid was reduced because our total property value increased higher than the state average, so the formula results in more of our necessary revenue having to come from property taxes.”
The district remains steadfast in its commitment to the taxpayers, the letter said.
“We honored that commitment when we officially set the tax levy in October and maintained the tax rate at $9.19 for the fourth year in a row,” the letter read. “In fact, the Board had the legal ability to levy for $1.3 million more – but chose not to in order to uphold its pledge to the community.”
During the same four years the district has held the $9.19 levy rate, the total equalized value across the district has increased by nearly $400 million.
“Certainly, rising residential property values are an indicator of a strong, vibrant local economy. Specifically, the growth in such property values validate each individual homeowner’s investment,” Spets said. “Considering supply and demand might help. Many people desire to live in our district. This competitive market continues to cause the selling price of homes and buildable lots to increase. As people compete to purchase the real estate, paying higher prices, all similar properties increase in value.”