WHOOPS! $40M tax error in Wausau

A $40 million tax mistake sounds dire, but homeowners should see only a small bump in their property tax bill next year, according to city officials.

The error was made in June when then-interim assessor Jeremy Ray filed the annual property tax report. Ray, appointed by former Mayor Jim Tipple and former HR Director Myla Hite, is no longer working for the city, officials confirmed on Tuesday. Former Assessor Nan Giese, who retired last year, is back to work on a contract basis.

Tax bills residents received in December included a notice informing homeowners of the issue and asking them to plan ahead for a bump in next year’s tax bill. But it could take months before the true impact is known. The state will determine the final figures in a report that will be included in the 2018 budget process, says City Council President Lisa Rasmussen.

Those numbers are not expected before spring, and the city staff does not have the computation formulas necessary to determine the exact impact on each taxpayer, Rasmussen says. However, the estimated tax impact is largely expected to range from $60 to $100 for the average home.

Rasmussen credits Mayor Rob Mielke for suggesting the notice in 2016 tax bills to prepare residents for next year’s expected increase.

“The Mayor’s willingness to work with staff, and council members to solve the issue and inform the public well ahead of the adjusted bills has been a big positive,” Rasmussen says. “As a council member, I really appreciate that so residents could prepare months in advance.”