Property tax decline is due to Dominion assessment
As Kewaunee County residents receive their property tax bills this month, the county treasurer said that the outcome of the Dominion-Town of Carlton court case will determine whether the lower property taxes they are receiving this year will remain lower in the future.
All towns saw their mill rate decrease for 2015 – from $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed value in the City of Algoma to $4.83 per $1,000 of assessed value in some areas of the Town of Pierce, according to Kewaunee County Treasurer Michelle Dax.
The reason for the decrease is the increase in the assessed value of the closed Kewaunee nuclear power plant, which the Town of Carlton this year assessed at $246,743,000 for the real estate and $210,655,600 for personal property as compared to a combined assessed value of $10 million in 2014 . As a result, its owner, Dominion Energy Kewaunee Inc., is required to pay property taxes of $3,299,455.61 for its real estate in 2015 and $2,813,944.66 for its personal property.
“Just about everyone’s property taxes went down except Dominion’s,” said Steve Hanson, county land information officer. “If you are in the Kewaunee School District you are most affected. while those in Luxemburg-Casco or Algoma school districts were not as affected.”
Because of the increased assessed value of the plant, the Town of Carlton’s equalized value went from $88,984,900 in 2014 to $518,042,000 in 2015. As a result, the town will pay 55.2 percent of the school district’s levy as opposed to the 18.1 percent that it paid last year, which lowered the portion that all other property owners in the Kewaunee School District had to pay, Hanson said.
Until last year, Dominion accounted for only 6 percent of the county’s taxes, but this year it accounted for 26.95 percent of the tax base, according to Hanson.
This means that every municipality’s tax rate went down and those municipalities that were in the same taxing jurisdiction as Dominion – the Town of Carlton and the Kewaunee School District – saw an even larger decrease, Dax said.
Dominion has filed a lawsuit disputing the assessed value of the closed plant. Under the suit, Dominion claims that the fair market value of the plant on Jan.1 was zero and the fair market value of the personal property was no higher than $1,283,500. The court case is not scheduled to go to trial until Nov. 7-11, 2016,
Depending on the outcome of the court case, this number could change in 2017 and taxpayers could have to pay a greater share of the levy, said Dax.
If the assessed value is lowered, there would be a charge-back procedure that is implemented, she said.
Dominion would be paid back by the Town of Carlton the amount of taxes that they overpaid according to any new assessed value that the court placed on the plant.
Then, the Town of Carlton would have to notify the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) and request that the taxing jurisdictions – he county, state, school district and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) – pay them back. If the DOR determines that the Town of Carlton is entitled to the chargeback, the other taxing bodies must reimburse Carlton for their portion of Dominion’s overpayment, she said.
“This would result in higher taxes for everyone,” she said.
Hanson said that there were too many variables to give any dollar amounts on what this could be if and when it could happen, as the lawsuit between the Town of Carlton and Dominion could take several years to wind through the court system.
“This is unique,” said Hanson. “This has never happened in this magnitude in the state, where you have one single municipality that has gone from 6 percent to 27 percent of the equalized value of a county in one year,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Property tax decline is due to Dominion assessment