Governor Doyle Signs State Budget, Property Tax Freeze, Into Law

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: Republicans are calling Governor Doyle's property tax freeze a 'fake' freeze.

That's because local governments can still raise the property tax levy to account for inflation and growth.

"The Governor has taken a very bad idea and made it just a bad idea." Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz does not mince words when talking about the property tax freeze, or as he likes to call it, the mandatory service cut. "He should not have signed the mandatory service cut in the first place."

Doyle says the average homeowner will benefit. "In the last five years property tax bills have gone up an average of $120 a year. Under my property tax freeze, the average homeowners bill won't go up at all."

But that's not the case for Madison. The average Madison home is worth $205,359. The city portion of their property tax bill is $1,600.

That home will be worth $222,928 next year, and under the Governor's freeze the property tax bills will go up $61.

So how did the 4% increase get by the freeze?

Republican's and Doyle allow cities to increase taxes for new growth, which is 3.25% for Madison. Doyle's vetoes allow cities to exempt increased debt service, which is another .75%.

Madison is not the only city to see an increase. Janesville is expected to grow by 3.1% next year, and in fact all cities get 2% just for inflation.

While Republicans say this proves it's not a real freeze, Cieslewicz says it's too much, and will lead to a 2% cut in city services.

The only way to get more money is to go to a referendum, which Mayor Cieslewicz says he won't rule out just yet.

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