Waukesha County's property tax levy would increase slightly, but the tax bill for a median home would decline under the 2013 budget proposed by County Executive Dan Vrakas Tuesday.
The proposed $273.7 million budget cuts overall spending by 3.8 percent or $10.9 million from the 2012 budget.
The total property taxes being collected, however, would increase by 0.8 percent — from $100.9 million in 2012 to $101.7 million.
However, because home values have fallen by 4.85 percent from 2011 to 2012, the property tax rate would increase from $1.96 to $2.11 per $1,000 of equalized value, under the proposed budget.
The median home value in the 2012 budget was $255,642, which was taxed $514 in that budget. The median home value in Waukesha County is $243,200 this year, which would be taxed $512, if the budget is approved as is by the County Board.
“The most important things is … the county taxes on the median home is going to go down,” said Norm Cummings, director of administration. “It doesn’t matter which way the rate goes, as long as your tax bill goes down. That is the bottom line.”
Vrakas released the budget, which is in line is in line with the state’s levy limit provisions, at Tuesday's County Board meeting. The budget and Vrakas’ budget speech will be posted on the Waukesha County website Tuesday night.
Members of the County Board have been involved with the budget process. Finance Committee Chairwoman Patricia Haukohl has attended every budget meeting, and other board leaders have been present when specific budgets, such as public safety, have been discussed.
“There aren’t a lot of surprises in it,” Vrakas said.
More than 65 percent of the budget is dedicated to justice, public safety and human services, Vrakas said. The justice and public safety budget is increasing from $39.5 million to $40.2 million in the proposed budget.
Costs in the justice and public safety are increasing because of decreased state aid, higher cost in the Waukesha County Jail, increasing caseloads in the Medical Examiner’s office and increasing costs for mental health institute placements.
“Those are costs we don’t have any control over,” explained Vrakas.
Vrakas touted Waukesha County’s tax rate as being the lowest in the area and the lowest in the state for counties that do not assess a county sales tax. If the county were to levy a sales tax , which is not in the plans, the county could assess up to $35 million, according to Norm Cummings.
Vrakas also praised Waukesha County for being the lowest per-capita spending county in the state, for its collaborations with other communities and for its top triple-A bond rating that allows the county to borrow money at lower interest rates.
“The county’s 2013 budget cuts spending, cuts taxes on a median-valued home, protects vital services and maintains our valued infrastructure,” Vrakas said.