Door County communities have some of the lowest property tax rates in the state, according to data from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX).
“It’s because of high vacation property values,” said Dale Knapp, Research Director for the WISTAX. “If there are a lot of vacation properties there, that’s going to drive the rate down.”
The rankings are based on the gross tax levy, which includes the local school district, technical college and County of Door levies. Individual municipalities do not dictate the amounts given to these entities. Door County communities do not have as low of a rank for the individual municipal tax levy.
Townships in Door County also have some of the lowest tax rates in the state. Towns generally have lower tax levies and rates than incorporated cities and villages because they do not offer as many services, such as sewer, water, curb and gutter, and other services that incorporated communities provide.
So while homeowners throughout Door County bristle at the thought of increased property tax rates, they’re starting from a pretty low level.
Knapp explained that while the rate is driven down, the per capita amount is very high because of low year-round population. Egg Harbor, Sister Bay and Ephraim are all among the top-five for per capita tax burden, but that metric is misleading, since expensive vacation homes owned by non-residents pay a large portion of the property tax burden. The population is small relative to the infrastructure.
“The per capita figure can be misleading as the municipality has to provide additional services and infrastructure to accommodate the influx of tourists, and… part of the tax is being paid by nonresident property owners,” said Knapp.
In contrast, Sturgeon Bay has a much higher tax rate but a lower per capita tax rate than its northern Door counterparts, due in part to a lower percentage of pricey vacation homes.
The Town of Manitowish Waters has the lowest total tax rate in the state at 8.04 percent. The highest total rate belongs to the Village of Brokaw in Marathon County at 47.19 percent. Many Wisconsin municipalities do not assess a municipal property tax; the highest municipal tax in the state also belongs to Brokaw, at 28.97 percent.
Door County Lowest Municipal Taxes Ranked
|Municipality||Municipal Tax Rate||Total Tax Rate (including school district, technical college, county)|
|1) Liberty Grove||2.31||10.17|
|3) Town of Egg Harbor||0.90||10.61|
|4) Baileys Harbor||3.04||10.88|
|5) Village of Egg Harbor||3.10||10.94|
|9) Town of Sturgeon Bay||0.74||12.64|
|11) Sister Bay||5.71||13.55|
|14) Clay Banks||1.67||15.89|
|15) Village of Forestville||1.72||15.94|
|18) Town of Forestville||2.28||17.38|
|19) City of Sturgeon Bay||8.54||24.00|
Source: Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, 2015-2016 data