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Property values will be adjusted in city
Boscobel City Hall

BOSCOBEL - This week, tax assessors are going house by house through the City of Boscobel. Their mission: To photograph every property in town and make sure the data in their records is correct. Next year, the number-crunchers at the firm Accurate will use that data to reassess the value of every property in the city. 

The actual reassessment—adjusting the value of your home, and hence the amount of your taxes—won’t be complete until 2023. Property owners won’t see any change to their 2022 property values. 

Boscobel’s reassessment is a product of Wisconsin statutes, which require that real estate be taxed at 90 percent of its market value. Currently, the city is taxing at a value of about 78 percent, which triggered the reassessment, according to City Administrator Misty Molzof. The city has budgeted $100,000 for the reassessment process.

Assessment vs appraisal

If you’ve ever bought or sold property, you’ve probably seen a real estate appraisal. That process is completely different from assessment, according to Chris Plamann, Accurate’s director of marketing and sales, who is also an assessor.

For an appraisal, a real estate agent finds five or six “comparable” recent home sales on properties similar to the one they’re appraising. “An appraiser can cherry-pick all the high ones,” Plamann said. “They’re going to try to find you that high value for a sale.”

An assessor takes the opposite approach by removing “outliers”—homes that sell much higher or lower than the going rate, he said.

“What we’re looking at is the broad picture, using a statistical model,” Plamann said. The goal, he explained, is to come up with an average that can be used as a baseline to evaluate individual properties. 

“Let’s say hypothetically that on average, ranch properties have increased in value by 36 percent. But there are many properties of a home that can impact how much any individual house has increased in value—the kitchen, the siding, all kinds of things—so maybe a particular ranch house has only increased by 34 percent,” he explained.

Higher taxes?

So, what’s the bottom line? Will taxes go up? That’s not a simple question. 

On the one hand, if a property increases in value, then its tax assessment also increases. And generally speaking, most property will have increased in value. 

The picture is more complex than that, however. Real estate taxes are determined by the total budgets of the municipality, county, school district, and tech school budgets all added up. That grand total is divided by the total assessed value of the area under taxation. That determines the “mil rate,” which is the dollar amount of tax due on one every $1,000-worth of property. (A mill rate of 1 would mean $1 of tax owed for every $1,000 of the value of the property, for instance.)

It’s simple math, as Plamann explained—if the total assessed value of a jurisdiction goes up, and the total budgets of all the taxing agencies stay the same, then the mil rate—the amount that any individual pays on their taxes—will go down. And as a rule of thumb, the mil rate comes down at about the same percentage that the assessment goes up. In 2021, about 46 percent of Boscobel’s real estate taxes went to the city.