Village of Wrightstown trustees get low-down on revaluation

Brian Roebke photo
Sheila Bowers was promoted to village clerk/treasurer at the Aug. 15 Wrightstown Village Board meeting. She has been serving as one of two deputy clerk/treasurers, and replaces Michelle Seidl, who moved to the same position with the Village of Bellevue.

By Brian Roebke
Joe Denor of Fair Market Assessments gave trustees a report on their revaluation process conducted earlier this year at the Aug. 15 Wrightstown Village Board meeting.
Denor said notice of assessments were mailed July 31 and the first open book meeting was Aug. 1, when just one person came to the village hall to discuss their assessment. The second open book was Aug. 14. The board of review was scheduled for Aug. 29.
Joe Denor said Mike Denor has been getting about three calls a day for the assessment from Wrightstown property owners.
“As of now there’s nobody that’s too upset about it or planning to appeal,” Joe Denor told the village board.
The average increase for Brown County was 47 percent and close to 50 percent for Outagamie County.
“The new subdivision had a large increase because there was a small partial assessment on those vacant lots last year,” Joe Denor said.
The previous reassessment was done in 2018 and Joe Denor said it was a big increase in a short period but that’s where the market is right now.
“Even the sales that we’re getting in now for 2023, they’re not slowing down,” he said.
He’s getting the same thing in other municipalities like the City of Kiel, which was reassessed in 2019 but now seeing increases of 50-55 percent, with 2023 sales even higher than that.
“I would expect another 10 percent or so increase on the equalized value again for next year,” he added.
In reviewing how values are created in the reassessment process, Joe Denor said they were inside every home in 2018 so they used that existing information along with any building permits that were issued since that time.
“There are a lot of older homes and some might not be in as good a condition as others, so you’re looking at not only the age and square footage but the condition of the home,” he added. “It’s all based on the condition of the market, so you’re always going to compare these certain type of homes with similar homes that have sold.”
He said surprisingly, the value of older, smaller homes increased at a higher percentage because something that might have been assessed at $85,000-90,000 five years ago is probably easily worth $150,000 today, more than a 50 percent increase.
“You can’t really get anything for under $100,000 anymore,” he said. “If you look back a little bit you probably could get something for $100,000.”
Joe Denor added the value of residential properties has increased more than commercial properties, so the tax impact will be great on homeowners compared to businesses.
Village Administrator Travis Coenen has had people contact the village hall to ask about assessments and taxes and budgets. He’s sent assessment questions to the Denors and handled the other questions himself.
He gives people a scenario of a $100,000 house that has a $9.04 mill rate, they are paying $904 in taxes for village operations. If the value of the home went up, they would pay $1,352 in taxes only if the mill rate remained the same.
Coenen has told them the best scare scenario is to decrease the mill rate about $3 to get back to the same tax as last year. He tells them the board intent is to keep the amount of the tax flat by dropping the mill rate.
Coenen said some people don’t believe their homes as worth as much as they are assessed for, but it’s now hard to find homes under $150,000 to $200,000.
“That’s what they’re selling for,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
He said his property in the Town of Wrightstown went up dramatically in value last year and he didn’t have many improvements in quite a few years.
Trustee Mark Leonhard reiterated the reassessment should have zero impact on what people pay in taxes because they base their taxes on the village budget.
“Whatever that budget is, that gets spread out through the whole community,” he said. “If we went up by 48, 47 percent, everybody takes a different share.”
He said the school district operates differently. “If they hold true to their $8.85 mill rate, that’s the most important thing, their estimate of increase this year is 14 percent of equalized value,” he said. “Last year they had just under a billion dollars of equalized value. If that goes up 14 percent, that’s $140 million more.”
He said that’s where people who’ve been reassessed will have a direct impact because the assessment should now equal the equalized value.
“If they keep their mill rate, they will generate $1.2, $1.3 million extra in revenue,” Leonard said, noting that could double their additional debt payment more than the $2.1 million that’s due.
“That’s scary,” he said.
Trustee Dan Segerstrom noted the new tax amounts will be a little more or a little less for most people because of the reassessment. Things like new siding or landscaping can add value to a home.
In correspondence, Coenen said Peter Helandar, who lives on Crestview Court, persistently continues to send letters with complaints on the short-term rental home that he lives next to.
“Officers are still getting called to the property for noise and whatnot, and if the calls are substantiated or if we find an ordinance violation when we go to the property, there will be citations just like we would for any other property in the village of Wrightstown,” Coenen said.
However, officers haven’t found any violations and Helander continues to ask when the village is going to pull their license to operate.
Coenen sent him a reply that said: “Just like any property in the village that we have issues with, we will address them and they will get violations and citations. We are going to investigate every compliant but if nothing is found we will not document any sort of violation nor issue any citations.”
Coenen said the disagreement with the neighboring properties is using a lot of village resources to chase alleged violations.
At this point, it’s taking away services from other village residents.
“Between Travis and I and the amount of time we have spent on this, talking with attorneys and trying to figure out some sort of conclusion and hopefully some resolution, I don’t know if there can be, but it is time consuming and the officers are going over there, they’re doing their job, they’re being professional, and they’re making decisions based on the ordinances,” Police Chief Greg Deike said.
He said officers will still respond to calls but they will document if there is or there is not a violation.
In his administrator’s report, Coenen said he’s applied for a rail grant, low-interest loan for the rail that’s even lower than the money they borrowed last year, and Public Works Director Andy Vickman will apply for a few more grants this year.
He said 3,000 people entered Bike to the Beat and there were a lot of people in Wrightstown for that event. Kickin’ it with the Cows had 600 adults and 100 kids running and the alumni ski show went well.
Coenen said Tunes on Tuesday has been attended by more people this year than many years. “It’s great to see the young families down there and people doing what I hope these events would do,” he said. “Getting neighbors back to neighbors because it doesn’t seem we all have enough time to hang out in our backyards or our front porches anymore,” he said.
Businesses are setting up for the events as well.
Coenen is working on some developments in the river district. “The girls from Whispering Roots have given the land back to us for 108 High St., which is the vacant land by the coffee shop but they’re still working on trying to get some interest on that property,” he said.
He’s had four different businesses contact him about the property the village garage currently stands on, including a pair of breweries.
He’s also working with the Outagamie County Highway Department to make sure there’s more connections with Wrights-town on their bike and pedestrian plan.
There’s more interest on TID No. 3 and No. 4.
The village board also gave hearty approval of Sheila Bowers to be promoted to village clerk/treasurer and gave her a round of applause. Ironically, she’s also the treasurer for the Town of Wrightstown.
“All I have to say is it’s about time,” Village President Dean Erickson said.
“Sheila has experience with the village and knowledge of our systems, but we were lucky to have some really good candidates,” Coenen said. “Hopefully we can get one of them to take the deputy clerk position.”
In other business:
• Deike conducted interviews for the part-time officer position
• Approved operator license for Tanya M. McCulloch for Bridge-port Shell
• Temporary sign for St. John Lutheran Church was approved
• Approved extraterritorial CSM for Fox Valley Wood Products, Town of Kaukauna
• Approved gathering center for Cotter Family Gathering Center. Coenen believes this building will only be for showings and community use
• M&M Cold Storage is still not in compliance with sprinkling system
• An economic development tour will be going through southern portion of Brown County, including the village on Sept. 25
• A water pipe under Dick’s Family Foods broke during the day, was shut off within a couple minutes, and repaired quickly and everything was back to normal the next morning. Multiple calls were made by store personnel and customers to various village employees, so there was a very quick response that saved a lot of damage
• Vickman received notice the village population has surpassed 3,200, requiring additional water testing in the future