City of Prairie du Chien assessed property value rises 21.75 percent

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By Correne Martin

Accurate Appraisal recently released the results of a property tax assessment performed across the city of Prairie du Chien. The overall community change, for both the residential and commercial sectors, since the last valuation shows an increase of 21.75 percent to assessed value.

City residential property assessment totals jumped from $170,594,500 to $211,528,400—up 23.99 percent. Commercial assessment totals went from $103,360,200 to $122,000,000—an increase of 18.03 percent. In total, assessed value grew from $273,954,700 to $333,528,400, which equals the 21.75 increase. 

“A revaluation is a redistribution,” said Ryan Wilson, the Menasha company’s Prairie du Chien account manager. 

Up-to-date assessed value is important because it is on those amounts that annual property taxes are computed. The city doesn’t receive any added money as a result of the appraisal, which, Wilson pointed out, is a misconception people have.

He shared a portion from the Department of Revenue 2018 Guide for Property Owners, to further explain:

“Property owners fear that taxes will go up if a revaluation is done. This may or may not be the case. Taxes are directly tied to the amount of money that the municipality needs to collect. This is called the levy. If the total levy remains the same, only those properties that are not presently paying their fair share of the tax burden will pay more taxes after a revaluation. Properties presently paying more than their fair share will pay less.”

Wilson said, another area property owners question is the tax rate. 

“If the assessed values established by a revaluation are greater than they were before, and the tax levy is the same, then the tax rate will be less,” he elaborated. “For example, if the tax levy remains unchanged and the total assessed value of the taxation district is doubled, the tax rate will be cut in half.

He gave the follow examples to demonstrate how the budget is divided by the assessed values to arrive at a tax rate:

•Before revaluation levy/(total assessed value)—$200,000/$4,000,000 = .05 or 5 percent

•After revaluation levy/(total assessed value)=$200,000/$8,000,000 = .025 or 2.5 percent

The city of Prairie du Chien hadn’t hired a citywide assessment done for many years. The residential assessment ratio, in 2017, prior to the release of these results, was at 85.77 percent. This means the homes in the city weren’t quite reflecting 100 percent of their values. The same is true for commercial properties. The commercial assessment ratio prior to this appraisal was at 88.80 percent. 

Some municipalities Wilson has worked with in Wisconsin—such as the cities of Monona, Stoughton and Oregon—contract revaluations to be done every year. 

“Instead of seeing big increases of 20 percent, increases are maybe 4 to 5 percent then,” he stated, noting homeowners and business owners find those smaller swings in value much easier “pills to swallow.”

When asked about the “tax increases” community members have been buzzing about, Wilson pointed out his company looks at market values, as well as style, age and condition, to determine its assessments. 

“There’s nothing that’s cookie cutter about it,” he said. “As far as ‘increases,’ you have to remember, people tend to talk most frequently to others who own like properties to theirs. So if ‘everybody’ is seeing an increase, that might be the reason.”

Though the total assessed value change in the city equaled 21.75 percent, individual taxpayers could still see a decrease or only a minimal increase in tax rates. That depends on many factors such as the city, school district, county and technical college budgets and the total levy.

Equalized/market value

The appraisal results also showed equalized value, aka market value, for residential and commercial owners. Residential equalized value was at $198,902,600 in Prairie du Chien and it’s estimated to increase to $211,336,800—for an estimated jump of 6.25 percent. Commercially, equalized values equaled $116,393,000 previously; now, the estimated equalized value is $121,720,900—translating to an estimated rise of 4.58 percent.

Prairie du Chien’s work for Accurate Appraisal began about four years ago and Wilson and his associates attempted to gain entry into as many city properties as possible, with permission of course. 

Wilson said Accurate Appraisals were helpful in connecting the company with property owners. Otherwise, city staff were not involved in the process.

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