Property owners in Wausau will pay more in taxes next year, thanks to a tax hike approved this month.
The Wausau City Council on Nov. 22 approved the city’s 2017 budget, increasing the total tax levy to $26 million, a 4.5% increase over 2016. The city will collect that increase with additional property values in the city and a 2.5% hike in the property tax rate itself.
In 2016, property owners were taxed at $9.43 per $1,000 in assessed value. The rate will increase to $9.67 per $1,000 in 2017, which means the owner of a $125,000 home will pay an extra $30 in taxes next year.
The 24¢ rate increase (2.5%) is lower than the hike approved from 2015 to 2016, when the city raised taxes by 66¢ per $1,000 in assessed value.
Overall spending (including state and federal aids, fees and other revenue) is projected to increase also at 4.5% for 2017 despite a July 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that showed Wausau with a budget surplus of $661,779 in the general fund. The October 2016 monthly budget report also showed year-to-date expenditures slightly below that of 2015.
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City leaders attribute most of the 2017 budget increase to personnel costs, including a 2% cost of living hike for union and non-union employees. The city also is hiring a fire inspector and three part-time administrative employees at the Wausau Police Department.
The Public Works Department’s budget, which includes road maintenance, increased by just 1%, or $91,000. In November, Wausau voters rejected a referendum asking for a city wheel tax, which would have raised an estimated $650,000 a year for street repair and maintenance.
Other major budget factors include:
• 2% increase in the refuse contract
• Increases in legal services and environmental remediation
• Increased property inspection costs to taxpayers. The city was forced to drop its Rental Licensing Program, which raised revenue to help pay for inspections.