CHIPPEWA FALLS — Property owners in Chippewa Falls will see a significant boost in the property taxes they pay, thanks in large part to a $65 million school referendum voters approved in April.
A Chippewa Falls homeowner with a house valued at $150,000 will pay $273 more in property taxes in 2019, largely because of that Chippewa Falls school district referendum. City residents’ tax bills will grow by 9 percent above bills due this year. About 53 percent of voters supported the referendum in the April election.
The school district’s tax rate — the tax amount per $1,000 of property value — for the school district climbed from $9.00 to $10.55. The tax rate for city services climbed from $9.18 per $1,000 to $9.68, while county the county tax rate rose from $3.84 to $3.91.
Chippewa Falls saw a $100 million jump in equalized value, from $900 million to $1 billion, an 11 percent increase. The increase allowed city officials to increase the tax levy — the amount of money collected from local taxpayers to support services — and to pay for hiring an additional police officer.
Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman said the position was needed, and he was pleased with how the city’s budget came together.
“I think we spent wisely,” Hoffman said. “We were able to give the city staff a small increase in pay. I think we’ve invested well.”
Hoffman said he knows some people will be startled by the increase, which is fueled by the school referendum. But the additional funding for the school district was needed, he said.
“To me, the school projects were very important to the community and the future,” Hoffman said. “So I’m not surprised by the increase. And we’ll enhance our school system, which is important to the community.”
School district Superintendent Heidi Taylor-Eliopoulos thanked the community for supporting the referendum.
“We are grateful that the community members in our district supported much-needed construction projects through the passage of our referendum,” she said. “We were fortunate that our good credit rating earned us a low interest rate and caused the tax impact to be lower than projected.”
The projected tax increase of $1.25 per $1,000 of property was instead $1.08.
The district anticipates construction on the new $22 million Stillson Elementary to begin in late spring, with the building opening in fall 2020. Bids will be opened in March. The district has already acquired a 36-acre parcel in the town of Lafayette, about one mile from the present Stillson Elementary.
The other dollars from the referendum will be used for remodeling several other district buildings and adding new science and technology classrooms at the high school.
The district has already borrowed $55 million to pay for the projects; the district’s business manager, Chad Trowbridge, said the district will borrow the remaining $10 million next summer. The money will be repaid over about 20 years.