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Merrill brought in financial consultant, discussed factors in unexpected tax rate hikeSubmitted: 01/22/2019
Dakota Sherek
Dakota Sherek
Senior Reporter / Anchor
dsherek@wjfw.com

Merrill brought in financial consultant, discussed factors in unexpected tax rate hike
MERRILL -
Mistakes can happen when you manage a budget worth tens of millions of dollars. Merrill's Finance Director apparently made a few calculation errors that led to many upset people. The city is now working to make sure confusion and calls for resignations don't happen again.

Tuesday night at a Committee of the Whole meeting a financial consultant came in to explain more about taxation and how Tax Incremental Districts (TIDs) affect a budget.



Finance Director Kathy Unertl says many factors contributed to the misestimated tax rate, but one of the biggest factors was her self-described "inadequate assessment" of how TIDs worked within the budget.

"I was using assessed value TID in instead of assessed value TID out in my calculations," said Unertl.

Another factor was that Merrill lost about $11 million in property value when a reassessment happened in 2016. All of that caused the rate to go up, but not the amount the city was collecting.

"We told them a wrong percentage," said Merrill Mayor Derek Woellner. "So Tim [Meehean] is saying we aren't charging more because the budget we approved was for the same amount, we just gave the wrong percentage to expect."

Members of the public also had an opportunity to ask their own budget questions so they could also further their understanding.

Unertl proposed a new way of displaying the city budget next year in the hopes that a similar mistake can be avoided with the future. Woellner said he feels optimistic about next year's budget process. 


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