Hudson and North Hudson rank low in taxesHudson and North Hudson are notable for their high household incomes, large tax bases, low tax rates and low municipal spending in a new comparison of financial data for 232 Wisconsin cities and villages.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Hudson and North Hudson are notable for their high household incomes, large tax bases, low tax rates and low municipal spending in a new comparison of financial data for 232 Wisconsin cities and villages.
They also rank lowest among the municipalities in their population groups when it comes to shared revenue received from the state.
The city of Hudson got $19.13 per resident in shared revenue in 2008. North Hudson received $32.12 per resident.
Hudson’s per capita shared revenue put it at the bottom of a group of 32 cities with populations of 10,000 to 15,000 that the Wisconsin Taxpayers Association compared.
The median share revenue per resident for the group was $85.95. Marinette got the largest payment at $423.89 per person.
North Hudson was part of a group of 31 municipalities with populations of 3,000 to 4,000 that were ranked in a number of revenue and spending categories.
The median per capita shared revenue payment in North Hudson’s study group was $175.60. The largest payment in the group, $356.63, went to Ladysmith.
Shared revenue is state income tax money that is distributed to municipalities to use as they see fit.
The Taxpayers Alliance report, “Municipal Facts ’09,” notes that most Wisconsin municipalities have seen their shared revenues decline over the five years (2004 to 2008) covered in the report.
The way shared revenue is calculated explains why Hudson and North Hudson receive some of the smallest payments in the state. Communities with large tax bases get the least revenue, and those with small tax bases get the most.
Hudson’s equalized value (tax base) for 2008 ($1.56 billion) was the fifth highest among the 32 cities in its group.
Equalized value is the total market value of all taxable property in a municipality.
Pewaukee had the most equalized value ($2.82 billion) and Merrill had the least ($404.2 million). The median for the group was $931 million.
The distribution of Hudson’s equalized value among residential (65.2 percent), commercial (30.0 percent), manufacturing (2.1 percent) and other (2.7 percent) properties is close to the median for the state.
North Hudson is remarkable for its high proportion of residential property (93.2 percent), compared to commercial (6.5 percent), manufacturing (0.1 percent) and other (0.3 percent) property.
The median percentage of equalized value in residential property for the municipalities in North Hudson’s group was 72.3 percent. North Hudson had the greatest percentage of residential property in the group.
Hudson ranked seventh-highest in household income among the cities in its group.
Its average household income for 2007 (the most recent year for which income figures were available for comparison purposes) was $68,920, compared to a group median of $48,852.
Whitefish Bay ($146,477) had by far the highest household income, while Marinette ($34,372) was at the bottom of the group.
North Hudson ($70,767) had a higher average household income than Hudson, and the highest household income in its population group. The median for municipalities of 3,000 to 4,000 people was $42,483. Stanley’s average household income ($28,656) was the lowest in the group.
The report compares municipal spending on four basic categories of services: general government, street maintenance, fire and ambulance, and police.
The spending reported here is for 2007, the latest year that data on these categories of expenditures was available.
The general government category includes spending on administration, buildings, legislative functions and legal services.
It’s the smallest portion of basic expenditures for most municipalities.
Hudson’s 2007 general government per capita spending of $89.31 ranked in the top quarter for municipalities its size. The median for the group was $70.34.
The city’s net fire and ambulance spending of $19.22 per resident put it in the bottom quarter of its group for that measure. The median fire and ambulance spending for cities of 10,000 to 15,000 people was $72.34. Glendale spent the most for fire and ambulance service ($233.45), and Hartford, the least ($5.32).
Hudson’s per capita street maintenance spending of $107.96 was slightly below the median of $115.88. Street spending ranged from a high of $413.59 at Grafton to a low of $59.92 at Greendale.
Hudson’s per capita police spending ($189.73) also was below the median ($215.08). Glendale spent the most for police protection ($460.44), and Weston, the least ($130.93).
North Hudson also spent less per capita on basic services than most of the cities in its population group.
At $64.63 per resident, the village had the second-lowest spending on street maintenance, well below the median of $116.81.
It ranked fifth-lowest of the 31 municipalities in police spending at $129.77 per resident. The median was $171.41.
North Hudson’s fire and ambulance spending of $48.26 also was below the median ($59.84).
Like the city, North Hudson was above the median in general government spending only. The village’s per capita general government spending was $82.35, compared to a median of $75.36.
Low tax rates
Hudson and North Hudson both ranked second-lowest in their population groups for municipal property tax rates.
Hudson’s 2008-09 equalized tax rate (levied in 2008, collected in 2009) was $4.07 per $1,000 of property value. Only Pewaukee, with a rate of $2.46, was lower.
Merrill had the highest tax rate at $11.49. The median was $6.12.
North Hudson’s equalized municipal tax rate for 2008-09 was $3.53, compared to a median of $6.57 for its group and a high of $10.38 at Brodhead.
In the introduction to its 102-page report, the Taxpayers Alliance cautions that property tax rates can be confusing.
“A lower rate does not mean that less is paid in property taxes. Instead, the rate reflects the ratio of the levy to equalized value. …What is most important to remember is that the amount of taxes paid has more to do with how much of the municipal levy each person is responsible for, rather than the rate,” the report says.
North Hudson also compares well to other communities its size when measured by the amount of taxes levied per resident.
North Hudson’s per capita municipal levy for 2008-09 was $365.77. The median for its group was $405.94.
Hudson doesn’t fare as well when ranked by the amount of its tax levy per person. Its per capita levy for 2008-09 was $536.34, above the median of $488.35 for the cities in its group.
Glendale, a suburb of Milwaukee, had the highest per capita levy ($888.47), and Whitewater, the lowest ($195.22).
“Municipal Facts ’09” contains a wealth of other information about the finances of Wisconsin cities and villages.
Copies of the report are available from the Taxpayers Association for the price of $17.95. They can be ordered through the association’s Web site, www.wistax.org or by calling the association at (608) 241-9789.