State homeowners surprised by higher assessments
Just because home values are plunging doesn't mean property taxes are falling.
In fact, many Wisconsinites were amazed to see that the assessed values of their homes actually went up this year and some folks blame that for a bigger than expected tax hike.
According to state law, homes are assessed according to what they were worth on Jan. 1, long before the mortgage meltdown reared its head.
In theory, if everybody's assessments rise by the same amount their property taxes would not go up as a result. But it doesn't work that way.
Ken Jankowski of Milwaukee saw his home assessment rise by 23 percent and he got hit with a 27 percent increase in property taxes this month.
He had to pay an extra $871, instead of the $200 or $300 more he was counting on.
Jankowski's home is now valued at $173,000, and he says there's no way he could sell it for that much.
Homeowners are supposed to get notices in the spring if their assessments change and they can appeal the figures if they wish.
But Jankowski said he didn't know about his increase until he got his tax bill.
Milwaukee assessors say they're looking at a general 5 percent drop in next year's home values but that's still very preliminary.