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Altoona tax bills a bit higher this year

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Eric Lindquist | Leader-Telegram

Overall net tax rate for city property taxpayers decline by 0.1 percent

Property owners in Altoona will notice a slight increase in the tax bills that arrive in their mailboxes this month.

The owner of a $150,000 home will pay $3,146 in property taxes to support the city of Altoona, Altoona school district, Eau Claire County and Chippewa Valley Technical College. That's up $17, or about 0.5 percent, from the previous year.

"If the credits were the same, we'd actually be down a little bit," said city finance director Tina Nelson, referring to the lottery credit that dropped $16.57 to $126 and the first dollar credit that fell $3.80 to $72.22 as compared with a year earlier.

Indeed, the overall net tax rate for property taxpayers in the city dipped 0.1 percent from $22.24 to $22.22 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to figures provided by Nelson.

Roughly 48 percent of those taxes will go to the school district - the only taxing entity to decrease its tax rate for the year. Taxes to support Altoona schools for next year on a $150,000 home will total $1,712, down $31 from the previous year.

A key factor in the decrease was that total valuation of district property went up 6.25 percent, said Michael Markgren, the district's acting superintendent and business manager. Increasing property values drive everyone's share down by spreading the amount raised through property taxes across more property wealth.

"Altoona has been growing so that's not really unusual, but it's even higher than it has been recently," Markgren said, adding that state aid is projected to decline in 2018.

"It's great when the tax levy goes down," he said, even though the district levied as much as state revenue limits allow.

Twenty-nine percent of property taxes collected will go toward city services, which saw the largest increase - 4.8 percent - of the taxing entities. For the owner of a $150,000 house, $1,023 of the current property tax bill will be devoted to the city, up $46.50 from a year ago.

While the Leader-Telegram previously reported the city's 2018 budget called for keeping the city's portion of the tax rate flat, that was based on equalized value, or an estimate of the market value of all property.

However, tax bills are based on the assessed value of properties. Altoona's assessed tax rate rose 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value after accounting for tax increment financing districts, Nelson said.

Eau Claire County and CVTC tax rates are going up, with the county receiving 19 cents more per $1,000 of assessed value and CVTC's rate rising 3 cents. 

Another factor in holding Altoona property tax bills nearly flat is the end of the state forestry tax, saving the average property taxpayer about $27 a year.

Taxpayers in Eau Claire, Altoona and the town of Ludington must make their first payment to the county treasurer's office by Jan. 31. All other cities, towns and villages in the county must send payments to their municipal treasurer.

All county taxpayers must pay the second half of their tax bills to the county treasurer's office by July 31.  

Contact: 715-833-9209, eric.lindquist@ecpc.com, @ealscoop on Twitter

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