Real Estate Taxes
Real estate taxes pertain to land and improvements (residential houses, commercial or industrial buildings and vacant land). Every parcel in the City receives a real estate tax statement.
Personal Property Taxes
Personal property taxes pertain to non-real estate business property.
Statements are mailed annually in mid-December following budget approvals of the five taxing jurisdictions. The jurisdictions include: City of Fort Atkinson, School District of Fort Atkinson, Jefferson County, Madison Area Technical College and State of Wisconsin. The mailing will include your statement, refuse & recycling calendar and an informational insert.
Payment Due Dates
The first installment is due January 31 to the City of Fort Atkinson, 101 N. Main Street, Fort Atkinson WI 53538.
The second installment is due July 31 to the Jefferson County Treasurer, 311 S. Center Avenue, Jefferson WI 53549. If paying the second installment in person, due to construction, pay at 222 Wisconsin Dr. Jefferson WI 53549.
Please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive a receipt. For payments due to the City, there is a night deposit drop box on the Water Street side of the Municipal Building.
Payments are welcome in check, money order form or cash. Credit card payments can be made on www.officialpayments.com. There is a fee charged by the merchant and is not retained by the City.
Telling our budget story
The total City of Fort Atkinson General Fund Budget for 2023 is $12,431,293. This amount is broken down into 11 categories: Public Safety $4,516,910 (36%); Public Works $2,449,860 (20%); Culture and Recreation $1,590,255 (13%); Debt Service $1,296,445 (10%); General Government $930,712 (8%); Library $616,511 (5%); Transportation Fund $500,000 (4%); Conservation and Development $247,700 (2%); Capital Improvement Project Budget $211,400 (2%); Health and Social Services $35,500 (0%); and Public Service Enterprises $36,000 (0%).
The overall 2023 tax levy represents a 12.97% increase over the 2022 tax levy, which equates to a $990,266 increase (without including support for the City’s Tax Increment Districts). This is the largest increase in the City’s levy in known history and is due to the increase in debt service and the approved public safety referendum in April 2022. The other allowable increase to the City’s levy, which is based on the City’s net new construction (0.336% in 2022) resulted in $22,067.58 in additional funds for operations. Property taxes make up 69% of the City’s revenue budget.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by more than seven percent (7%) over the previous 12 months, which means that several of the City’s contracted services also increased by a similar percentage. However, the City’s tax levy increases continue to be severely limited. This level of increase in the City’s largest source of revenue is not sustainable in the long-term, and the City will need to pursue additional strategies in the future to diversify revenue sources.
The City took the exceptional step in 2021 and 2022 to prepare for a public safety referendum in 2022 to be effective in 2023. This referendum was approved by voters in 2022 and will add 12 full time staff members to the Fire Department and two additional police officers to the Police Department. The referendum question asked voters to pay an additional $769,335 in property taxes in perpetuity to fund the additional fire, 911 EMS, and police staffing and services. However, the amount approved does not ever increase. In the coming years, the City may be faced with additional unattractive options to increase revenue to pay for basic City operations and services. Such future options include implementing a Transportation Utility, increasing user fees and charges for services, increasing general obligation debt service, and/or preparing additional operating referenda. In the absence of increasing revenues to pay for the ever-increasing cost of personnel, supplies, materials, and equipment; the City may have to consider staffing and service cuts or facility closures.
Since property taxes are based on the assessed value of properties in the City of Fort Atkinson, it's important to note the City’s assessed value actually decreased in 2022. The assessed value of in the City in 2022 was reported at $927,642,900, compared to an equalized value of $1.2 billion. Equalized values are calculated by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and represent the market value of a property. The City’s assessor will conduct an interim market update in 2023 to get into compliance with state statutes relating to the City’s assessment ratio. When assessed values increase the mill rate will decrease resulting in a stable tax bill.
The 2023 budget reflects the goals of the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the City Council on March 19, 2019 and amended by the Council on February 17, 2022. To learn more about the comprehensive plan go to www.fortatkinsonwi.gov and search comprehensive plan.
Those with questions about the budget should contact City Manager Rebecca Houseman LeMire at 920-397-9901 or email@example.com.