De Pere objects to stopping collection of tax payments
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – The De Pere Common Council voted unanimously Tuesday, March 2, on a resolution that sends a message of objection to the Brown County treasurer’s office for its decision to stop collecting the first installment or payment-in-full property tax payments.
The city also is requesting the county continue tax collection services as it has in the past, at least for the next batch of taxes due in January.
The county has collected property tax payments from De Pere property owners and those of other county municipalities since at least 1998 to simplify operations.
“Collecting tax payments through one centralized agency is more efficient than having multiple agencies doing the same activity,” reads the resolution in part.
Because the county didn’t notify municipalities of the change, which is to take effect in January of 2022, until after municipalities had adopted their 2021 operating budgets, most didn’t include funding to do it on their own in their budgets.
“Placing the responsibility of property tax collection to each individual town, village or city will inevitably cost taxpayers more,” the resolution reads.
It ultimately asks the county for an extension of notice in order to properly budget and plan for the mandate.
De Pere Finance Director Joe Zegers said for the city to embark upon tax collection, it would require some major changes.
“Taking on tax collection at the city level presents several problems in terms of both staffing and the city budget,” he said in a memo to Mayor James Boyd and the board. “In order to collect taxes, the city would need to purchase LandNav Municipal Tax Collection software at a cost of $1,500 per year (subject to an annual increase not to exceed 3 percent), plus an initial conversion/training fee of $2,000.”
Zegers said the city would need to hire and train temporary staff from mid-December through Jan. 31 of each year.
The city is requesting the county board to enter into intergovernmental service agreements with towns, villages and cities to consolidate the first installment or payment-in-full property tax payments with the county for 2021 taxes payable in 2022, as has been done in the recent past.
The city is also asking the county treasurer to work with local municipalities to establish a multi-year plan to make tax collection more efficient and effective.
Similar resolutions were recently passed by the village boards in Ashwaubenon, Hobart and Suamico.
In other business, the council:
• Denied reimbursement from the city to a woman whose keys were lost when a De Pere police officer, who arrested her, placed them on the top of the squad car. The woman said in a written statement to the council she went to the police department to ask for a ride home and was instead arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The keys cost the woman $211 for locksmith service and chip programming. The city’s insurance company, EMC of Brookfield, said it didn’t think their policyholder (the city) was negligent.
• Voted unanimously to accept two $500 donations from the Optimist Club for the annual parks department Easter egg hunt and for day camp T-shirts.
• Heard an update on COVID-19 from the City of De Pere Health Department Public Health Director Deb Armbruster. She reported about 60 percent of adults in De Pere over the age of 65 had been vaccinated for coronavirus.
• Approved a liquor license for SmithMakers Artisan shop on Broadway to sell bottles of wine as gifts.
• Voted to update the position title of the director of planning and economic development to development services director.