Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Assessment Appeal Deadline Extended

City board gives three week extension, to June 8, for homeowners appealing new assessments.

By - May 16th, 2020 12:43 pm
Homes on S. Lenox St. in Bay View. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Homes on S. Lenox St. in Bay View. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The due date to appeal a property value assessment in Milwaukee has been extended from May 18th to June 8th.

Residential property assessments, released in late April, increased an average of 11.95 percent in Milwaukee compared to last year, causing sticker shock for a number of property owners. The assessments are based on sales data and, under state law, designed to reflect the value on a pre-pandemic date of January 1st.

The Board of Review, a citizen-led board that oversees assessment appeals, extended the deadline Friday at the request of multiple members of the Milwaukee Common Council.

The Assessor’s Office has already received requests for 5,171 objection forms, up from 2,085 in 2019.

“I applaud the Board of Review for granting this extension which is a huge win for residents. Given all the challenges Milwaukeeans are facing because of COVID-19, allowing an extra three weeks to submit an appeals form for those who need the extra time is in the best interest of residents citywide,” said Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic in a press release.

“My colleagues and I have heard from residents from the start that this process was both confusing and complicated,” said Ald. Milele A. Coggs. “In light of today’s decision I encourage anyone who still wants to file an objection to utilize the additional time to do so.” Residential property values went up an average of 25 percent in the sixth aldermanic district, the biggest percentage increase in the city. The dramatic percentage increase was driven, anecdotally according to Assessment Commissioner Steve Miner, by individuals who were priced out of Riverwest buying homes in the adjacent Harambee neighborhood.

The average assessment in Coggs’ district rose from $69,900 to $87,915, still the fourth-lowest in the city. The council district to the east, the third district represented by Ald. Nik Kovac, has an average assessment of $278,869, the highest in the city. On an absolute dollar value basis, the two districts had similar increases. Coggs’ district was up $18,015 on average (25.78 percent), Kovac’s was up $18,430 (7.08 percent).

“I want to thank the Board of Review for acting quickly on our request and in the best interest of residents. Allowing an extension of the deadline will enable more people to file an appeal, and creating a more user-friendly, accessible process should always be the goal,” said Ald. Ashanti Hamilton.

According to the Assessor’s Office, 81.2 percent of properties in the city saw their assessments increase in 2020.

“Our goal is to have the assessments match the sales,” said Miner during a council committee meeting on Monday afternoon. Under state law, properties are assessed based on a legal definition of “market value.” That is primarily accomplished by comparing home styles and locations to sales data.

“Annual assessments… is the best way to keep the property tax fair and that’s the goal of the Assessor’s Office,” said Minor. He said the move to annual assessments was based on four principals: fairness, equity, property values changing at different rates in different areas and disparities compounding over time if not adjusted often.

It’s the third factor, that some areas are more in demand than others, that he believes is causing an issue now. “That’s exactly what happened this year and I think that’s what’s causing some of the calls to alders,” said Miner. Assessments are up most notably on the west side of Bay View and in the Harambee neighborhood.

An increased assessment does not automatically trigger a larger property tax bill. The actual tax bill a property owner receives from the city is set by the budget process in the fall. Under state law, the property tax levy can only be increased by the value of new construction. But properties changing values at different rates will alter the proportion of the city’s property tax levy an individual property owner pays. If a property grows in value at slower than the city average, the tax bill for that property could go down. The city reduced its property tax rate last year, but a Milwaukee Public Schools referendum approved on April 7th will increase the school district’s tax rate. A city taxpayer’s bill also includes a portion of the levy for Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Property owners now have until June 8th at 4:45 p.m. to file the assessment. The process can be started online on the Assessor’s Office website.

For more on the ins and outs of the assessment process, see our coverage from earlier this week.

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