Where do your taxes go in the city of Prairie du Chien?

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By Correne Martin

Full payment or at least the first installment of property taxes in Prairie du Chien are due to the city by Saturday, Jan. 31. (Second installments must be paid to the county treasurer by July 31.) Prairie du Chien tax bills are around $2,890 per $100,000 of property value, which equals a decrease of about $5.39 over the previous year.

A breakdown of the 2014 tax bill, generated by City Administrator Aaron Kramer, can help property owners understand exactly where their money is going.

Of a total tax bill for a $100,000 home, about $1,166 (or 38 percent) goes to the Prairie du Chien School District, $913 (29.7 percent) goes to the city of Prairie du Chien, $834 (or 27.2 percent) goes to Crawford County, $137 (or 4.5 percent) goes to Southwest Tech, $19 goes to the state of Wisconsin and $145 pays for garbage fees. There are three credits on the tax bills, including $136 for the school tax credit, $117 for the state lottery credit, and $69 for the First Dollar Credit. By doing the math, the sum of these estimates equals $2,890 on $100,000.

According to Kramer, the city’s taxes went up $.52 from last year, the school’s $55.92, the county’s $23.41 and the state’s $.89 from last year. Southwest Tech’s numbers went down $88.26 from the previous year’s tax bill. That is how the $5.39 overall decrease is calculated.

Looking more closely at the city’s portion of taxes, overall spending is expected to increase this year by around 1.5 percent. The total tax levy is up by about .75 percent to around $2.28 million.

“That’s the second smallest rate of increase we’ve had in 10 years,” Kramer stated. “We still put $100,000 in contingency, our rainy day fund.”

Kramer added that the uptick of $.52 to the city’s portion of local taxes is mostly due to the increase in construction in 2014.  

“We also had a long year. We had a very cold and snowy winter with a record number of residential freezes and water main breaks,” he said, noting that a water rate increase is also on the horizon, perhaps within the next year, for Prairie du Chien property owners. “Our water rates are still among the lowest in southwest Wisconsin.

Comparing the 2015 city budget to past years’ budgets, Kramer said it was less difficult to put together. He said a large number of the costs have become predictable.

“About 90 to 95 percent of the budget is fixed costs, such as health insurance and wages. The rest is discretionary funds and we have to be very careful how we spend those dollars,” Kramer said. “Approving a budget is where the politics come in. After all of the departments give me their Christmas wish lists, I take into account the numbers from the state and then tweak them before putting it to the council to make the most informed decision possible. My department heads, the finance committee and the council are exceptionally fiscally responsible. I couldn’t do it without them.”

As this year progresses, the city plans to focus on more recycling education for the commercial and industrial stakeholders of the community.

“We’ve got the residents on board. Now we just need the commercial and industrial folks,” Kramer said. “The more we recycle, the more we get back on the garbage bill.”

For more information about the city’s budget or where Prairie du Chien taxpayer dollars go, visit prairieduchien.info or contact Kramer at the city hall, 326-6406.

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