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A worker uses an excavator for a sewer project Thursday on Highway 51 near the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville. A priority for the city’s proposed 2020 budget was investing in infrastructure, Finance Director Max Gagin said.

JANESVILLE

Janesville’s proposed 2020 budget calls for the second-smallest tax levy increase in 20 years and a significant decrease in the tax rate.

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But the city’s recent property revaluation means a lower tax rate will affect individual taxpayers differently, depending on how much their property value has changed.

The public can offer feedback on the proposed budget at a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday in council chambers.

Under the revaluation, residential property values jumped an average of 31% while commercial property values rose by an average of 12%. A steeper increase in residential property values has shifted more of the property tax burden from commercial to residential properties, Finance Director Max Gagin said.

Since the process wrapped up, city staff has said an increase in property value doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in city taxes.

The Gazette looked at a couple of residential properties to confirm that.

The city’s proposed 2020 tax rate drops almost 18.7% from this year’s rate, from $9.54 per $1,000 of assessed property value this year to $7.76 per $1,000 of assessed value next year.

Residents whose property values increased around the 31% average likely will see an increase in the city portion of their tax bills.

For example, the city’s median assessed home value jumped from $112,400 to $147,600. A home valued at $112,400 in 2018 paid $1,072 in city property taxes.

A home valued at the new median assessed value would pay $1,145 in city taxes if the proposed tax rate is approved—an increase of $73.

On the flip side, a residential property valued at $34,800 in 2018 paid $332 in taxes. That property’s value increased 19% to $41,400, making the estimated 2020 city tax bill $321—an $11 decrease.

To calculate their estimated city taxes, residents can take their new assessed value, multiple that by the proposed tax rate—$7.76—and divide the total by 1,000.

The tax rate could change as the council moves forward with its budget adoption process. After Monday’s public hearing, the council will vote to approve the levy and tax rate Dec. 3.

The tax rate could change between those two dates, Gagin said.

Priorities for the 2020 budget included investing in infrastructure, moderately increasing the tax levy and decreasing the city’s dependence on the general fund balance for operating expenses, Gagin said.

The most recent state budget gave additional state funding to municipalities for transportation, Gagin said.

The city chose to allocate all of the $205,000 it was given to fix roads, he said.

Janesville will save money in the long term if the city can rely on cash financing for infrastructure instead of issuing debt, Gagin said.

The proposed 2020 budget is the first to include the city’s water rate increase, which took effect Nov. 1.

Solid waste fees are estimated to increase about 13% because of the increased cost of recycling nationwide, Gagin said.

The city used to be paid for recyclables. Now it has to pay someone to collect them since China stopped importing waste from around the world in 2018, Gagin said.

Solid waste rate increases will cost residents about $4.16 more per quarter, he said.

Stormwater utility fees now will be used to pay for curb and gutter replacement. That, along with an increase in stormwater costs, will result in an increase of $6.54 per quarter for the average household.

The budget contains no significant changes to services, Gagin said.

On the personnel side, the city budgeted for one additional human resources staff member, he said.

During recent study sessions, the city council wanted the budget to address concerns about downtown parking, Gagin said.

He said council members and city staff have heard a lot of concern about downtown parking since projects such as the Milwaukee Street bridge and pedestrian bridge have disrupted the flow of traffic and parking in the last year.

One early idea from the council was to consider downtown parking fees. However, the budget instead increases funding for the police department so it can double the amount of time spent on parking enforcement, Gagin said.

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