Tax comparisons between communities is tricky business

Different fees, services make it difficult to determine what's high or low

Dec. 22, 2010

Comparisons of tax bills from community to community don't work very well. For example, while some communities tax for road improvements, Whitefish Bay does special assessments for them. Most tax for the cost of refuse collection, but Mequon does not. The seven Milwaukee County communities have a full-time fire department, but Mequon and Thiensville have volunteer departments.

Three communities - Brown Deer, Fox Point and Thiensville - had community-wide revaluations. In the case of Fox Point and Thiensville, property values went up and tax rates went down. In Brown Deer, property values declined and tax rates went up.

Here's a look at what to expect in the tax bill envelope. Check the bills for the dates village and city halls will accept payments.


Three different tax bills go out in Bayside, depending on elementary school district and whether residency is in Milwaukee County. Ozaukee County residents in the Fox Point-Bayside School District will pay a net tax rate of $21.84 per $1,000 of assessed value, or an average of $7,777.24, up $74.80 from last year. Milwaukee County residents in the same school district will pay $24.68, or $8,788.55, up $110 from 2009. Taxpayers in the Maple Dale district will pay a bill based on a tax rate of $23.51 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $8,371.91, up $114. The average assessed home value in Bayside is $356,100.

Brown Deer

The overall tax rate jumped $2.59 to $27.99 per $1,000 of assessed value, but that shouldn't scare taxpayers. The village did a community-wide revaluation, and the average residential home value decreased by 11.09 percent, while taxes went up 9.32 percent overall. In simple terms, that means the owner of an average home paid $4,390 on his $171,514 house last year. This year the taxes on the same home, now valued at $152,488, will decrease by $123 to $4,267. A lottery credit of $111 and a first dollar credit of $88 would be subtracted from that bill.


The majority of city taxpayers live in the Glendale-River Hills School District and will see a net tax rate increase of 44 cents to $24.56 per $1,000 of assessed value. The small number in the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District will see a 66-cent increase to $27.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, as the Maple Dale district begins to pay back money borrowed for referendum projects in 2009.

The tax rates for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District increased 10 cents, or 6.8 percent; for the city, 9 cents, or 1.3 percent; and for the county, 24 cents, or 5.1 percent. The Nicolet tax rate decreased by 14 cents, while the Milwaukee Area Technical College rate decreased by 3 cents, or 1.6 percent, and the state rate decreased 1 cent, or 3.8 percent.

The owner of a house assessed at the average value of $200,000 in the Glendale-River Hills district would pay $4,912, up from $4,824 a year ago. For those in the Maple Dale district, this year's tax bill totals $5,430 compared to $5,298 a year ago.

Fox Point

Like Brown Deer, Fox Point had a revaluation in 2010. Tax rates are lower than last year, even with a couple of levies going up slightly. The total tax rate for residents in the Fox Point-Bayside School District this year is $24.51 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from a net rate of $27.15 assessed a year ago. For the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District, the rate is $23.30 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from the net rate of $28.85 assessed last year.

Fox Point does not calculate the value of the average home in the village.

The state of Wisconsin levy decreased 6.4 percent; Milwaukee County's levy, less the sales tax credit, increased 0.5 percent; MMSD's levy increased 2 percent; MATC's levy decreased 6 percent; the village levy increased 3 percent; the Fox Point-Bayside schools levy increased 0.5 percent, and the Maple Dale-Indian Hill levy increased 0.4 percent; the Nicolet High School District levy decreased 7.5 percent; and the state school credit decreased 2.9 percent.


The city gets a little complicated, with two school districts and properties in or out of the sewer service area. Property owners in the Mequon-Thiensville School District saw their net tax rate decrease from $15.98 to $15.96 per $1,000 of assessed value. Property owners in the Cedarburg School District saw an increase from $15.29 to $15.49 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The owner of a house with the average assessed value of $354,000 in the Mequon-Thiensville district would have a slight decrease in taxes, from $5,656.92 last year to $5,649.84.

The sewer utility tax rate of $1.86 per $1,000 of assessed value, identical to last year, will be on tax bills for properties within the sewer district, adding another $658.44 to the bill. The Cedarburg district is outside of the sewer area. Some of the property in the Mequon-Thiensville district is in the sewer district.

River Hills

River Hills boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the state, and the determining factor for residents' tax bills will be the location of their properties. Residents living in the Maple Dale-Indian Hill district will pay $1.16 more per $1,000 of assessed value than residents living in the Glendale-River Hills district. With the average assessed home value at $750,000, that difference quickly adds up.

Residents living in the Maple Dale district will pay a net total tax of $24.45 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $18,337.50, up from last year's bill of $18,127.50. In the Glendale-River Hills district, a home assessed at $750,000 will generate $17,467.50 in taxes this year, up from $17,422.50 last year. The net tax rate for the Glendale-River Hills district increased 6 cents from $23.23 to $23.29.

State and MATC taxes declined 2.37 and 1.95 percent, respectively, on all tax bills, while taxes for the Nicolet School District declined 3.52 percent, county taxes increased 4 percent, village taxes increased 1.3 percent, and MMSD taxes increased 6.36 percent, again for all taxpayers. Glendale-River Hills district residents saw a 2.22 percent increase while the Maple Dale-Indian Hill residents saw a 5.19 percent increase.


The village has a net 2010 tax rate of $25.44 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 81 cents from the 2009 tax rate of $24.63 per $1,000. Taxes increased for the village (3.27 percent), schools (2.74 percent), Milwaukee County (1.19 percent) and MMSD (2.69 percent), while the state's decreased 5.74 percent and MATC's decreased 5.34 percent.

The owner of a home with the average assessed value of $310,000 will see a bill of $7,886.40.


The village has only five taxing bodies on its tax bill: Ozaukee County, MATC, the village, Mequon-Thiensville School District and the state. They add up to a net tax rate of $19.07 per $1,000 of assessed value on this year's tax bill. The village also had a community-wide revaluation in 2010. The average home, valued at $241,200, will pay $4,600 in taxes. The average home in 2009, valued at $212,500, had a tax bill of $4,836.50.

Whitefish Bay

Taxes rose in the village, with the school district portion showing the largest increase, a 6.9 percent increase in the levy. The levy for MMSD rose 5.32 percent; the county, 3.78 percent; and the village, 3.3 percent. Other levies - MATC, the Silver Spring district, and the state - decreased.

The owner of a house valued at $400,000 will pay taxes of $8,936 in 2010 based on the net tax rate of $22.34 per $1,000 of assessed value, up from last year's bill of $8,920. The rate last year was $22.30 per $1,000 of assessed value.

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