Local tax rates among the lowest in the state
Property tax rates in Hudson-area municipalities are low compared to elsewhere in the state, an annual report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance reveals.
Hudson's 2002 municipal tax rate ranked 176th from the top among Wisconsin's 190 cities.
The town of Hudson's municipal rate ranked 1,192nd out of 1,265 townships, and North Hudson's rate was 292nd among 395 villages.
The figures are from a report titled "Comparing Property Taxes, 2002-03" published in the Taxpayers Alliance's June edition of "The Wisconsin Taxpayer."
The report compares municipal tax rates, net levies and equalized property values in Wisconsin's municipalities.
The city of Hudson's 2002 municipal property tax rate was $5.07 per $1,000 of equalized value, compared to a state average for cities of $8.04.
The town of Hudson's municipal rate was $0.82 per $1,000 of equalized value. The state average for townships was $2.37.
North Hudson's municipal rate was $3.85 per $1,000 of value, while the state average for villages was $5.92.
The report included figures for all 190 Wisconsin cities, townships with a population of more than 4,000, and villages with a population of more than 2,000.
City Administrator Devin Willi attributed the below-average tax rate to a fiscally conservative City Council and a balance of residential, commercial and industrial growth.
"The council historically has been very tight with the budget," Willi said. "It works very hard every year not to have a tax rate increase. And that was going on long before I was here."
Willi said local governments are forced to hold down taxes and spending "because they're a lot easier for the community to reach."
"It's hard sometimes for a person to feel they can do anything at the state or federal level," he said, "whereas at the local level there is more daily contact."
A council that raised taxes in the current environment would be quickly voted out of office, he said.
Hudson Town Chairman Bob Waxon said the explanation for his township's low tax rate also is a history of frugality.
The town board has always been slow to levy property taxes, going back to the days when his father served on it, he said.
"They really don't look to spend money, other than on what's needed."
Contracting with the county to do snowplowing and roadwork also holds costs down, Waxon said.
In addition, the town's rapid growth and increase in property valuation makes it easier to maintain or reduce the tax rate.
Waxon said the town is adding about $1 million in property valuation per month.
North Hudson Clerk/Administrator Mitch Berg said his municipality would have made an even better showing in the tax comparison if it hadn't agreed to join with the city of Hudson and the town of Hudson in creating the Hudson Area Joint Library.
Except for the increased library spending, "we really didn't raise anything, basically," he said.
Berg said the village has had some modernization expenses in the past five to eight years, but has "finally caught up so that we don't have to spend as much as we did."
"We're really in good fiscal shape," he said. "We've refinanced a lot to get the lowest possible interest rate, and we're continuing to do that."
North Hudson also benefits from sharing water, sewer and fire departments, plus ambulance service, with the city of Hudson, Berg said.
"I think the message is clear
people are kind of tired of paying high taxes," he said.
(Note: additional tax comparison data from this story can be found on page 8A of the August 7, 2003 Hudson Star-Observer.)