MARSHFIELD, WI (WSAU) — Following a marathon three-hour-long budget planning session in Marshfield this week, city officials say property taxes in the city will now be increasing 3%, up from the 2.2% anticipated just a week ago.
That new proposed tax rate is $9.54 per-thousand-dollars of assessed property value, representing a total 28-cent-per-thousand increase compared to 2019 when the tax rate was $9.26 per-thousand.
City administrator Steve Barg says the larger increase is due in part to a tax rate that’s been kept too low, for too long, especially as compared to other cities of similar size.
“We have under-levied for quite a while,” Barg explained. “From 2005 to 2018, we have had a total increase in the tax rate of just under 4% over 14 years. And as a result of that, we’re starting this year at $9.26 per-thousand-of-value while our neighbors in Point, Rapids, and Wausau, are well above that.”
The city is also still recovering from a budget shortfall discovered last February that was a result of ‘Tax Incremental District’ accounting practices used by the city’s previous finance director from 2011 through 2017.
Mayor Bob McManus says, unfortunately, it’s the tax-payer who ends up paying the price. “The people that are carrying the brunt of this are the tax-payers and the city staff. And so to the tax-payer, I apologize. It just kills me that this is going to go to the tax-payer. It’s just wrong.”
Also contributing to that larger than anticipated increase are new figures that have come in this week showing that the city’s ‘assessed value’ increased by only 2%, instead of the 5% that was originally estimated.
Voting against that 3% tax rate increase were council members Spiros, Hendler, Fischer, and Buttke. A public hearing and final vote on Marshfield’s 2020 city budget is scheduled for November 26th at City Hall.