Those "surprisingly high" tax statements that St. Louis County property owners recently started receiving in the mail?  Douglas County property owners could see something similar in the not so distant future.

The City of Superior has okayed hiring an appraisal contractor to make a citywide revaluation of all properties on the tax roll.  The move comes as the city aims to correct the non-compliance situation that it current finds itself in with the Wisconsin Revenue Department.

That non-compliance situation means that Superior is breaking the state law that says "the assessed value of each major class of property must be assessed within 10% of the full value of the class in the same year", according to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall].

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Superior - and Douglas County - finds itself in a similar situation as residents in Duluth and St. Louis County recently did.  Home sale prices have "increased dramatically" in the last couple of years.  "....[B]y more than 20%" according to Superior City Assessor Terry Johnson.  That increase is leaves property valuations lagging behind, and leaves a community like Superior out of compliance.

To right-side the problem, the Superior City Council has okayed spending $355,000 to hire a vendor to handle the process.  After moving to waive the usual bid requirements, the city decided to employ Associated Appraisal Consultants, Inc. for the job.

City leaders warn that because the current valuations are so far out of compliance, that the new numbers will move the needle for everyone.  Superior Mayor Jim Paine urged city councilors to get educated on the issue, warning City Councilors:

"It's going to be a big deal.  It's going to affect every one of your constituents."

At the same time, Paine's call for City Councilors to get educated about the process includes the usual reminder about the correlation and lack-of correlation between property valuations and the eventual property tax bill.  Many people wrongly assume that an increase (or a decrease) on their properties valuation will make a "dollar-for-dollar" change to their property tax bill.

Superior, WI city limits road sign with population
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

That article in the Telegram offers a very succinct explanation of the relationship property valuations have with property taxes:

"The tax levy determines the overall cost of property taxes.  Property valuations determine the distribution - how much individual property owners - pay toward the tax levy."

Superior City Assessor Terry Johnson offered an additional (and relative) example:

"[He] said he views property valuations like a pie and the valuation is the share of the pie the individual property owners are responsible for."

Timeline for the citywide review has commercial properties up first.  Those will start to be looked at this summer.  Residential properties will follow, more than likely in 2023.

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