Home prices fall -- how about my taxes?


Home prices have fallen 32.2% since peaking in the second quarter of 2006 and are at levels not seen since the end of 2002. Even in areas that never had the huge run up in real estate prices, like in Milwaukee where I live, assessed values are decreasing.

For those of us not interested in selling, could this be good news? I was pleasantly surprised when I received my latest tax assessment. Our assessment actually went DOWN for the first time in 26 years. Reportedly, the assessed values of duplexes went down with ours decreasing $14,000. Though we live in our whole house and no longer rent part of it, it is still classified as a duplex so we were included in the falling assessments.

The question, of course, is whether that will really translate into any decrease in actual taxes due. With all the falling assessments across the city, there is a shortfall in the city/county/state coffers. The probability that the mill rate will be raised to cover the deficit is a real possibility. That means, even though my assessment went down, my taxes could go up.

I remember as a little girl, my parents complaining about taxes. Now, I really know what they mean. It is especially frustrating to pay our fair share and find our roads are falling apart, we have no mass transit system, and our park system, once the shining jewel of Milwaukee, is falling into disrepair.

I'll let you know what happens when I get the tax bill in December.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. Have a good story about negative people? Submit your Energy Sucker story at The People Pro.