A strong economy, resulting in few vacant lots, creates the required income for our city. We need to use that funding well, or return it to our tax payers through lower taxes. Glendale has a strong tax base with a mix of industry, commercial, and residential. Yet, in 2016, Milwaukee County's average property tax rate is 2.56%, while Ozaukee County's is 1.65%, Washington County is 1.69%, and Brookfield County is 1.67%, (per SmartAsset). This clearly is a disadvantage when competing with other cities in metro-Milwaukee with a similar suburban feel. Reviewing my own property tax bill for 2016, I pay 2.67% of my property value to taxes.
Of that, the biggest piece of the pie goes to Local tax at 28% (we as city council members have control over this) followed by 24% to Milwaukee County. So just over 50% goes to city and county government. You can review the last city budget from the Glendale website here.
We then see the schools take the next pieces of the pie at 21% to Glendale/River Hills and then 18% to Nicolet High; throw in the Vocational District with another 5%. Overall, schools take about 45%. Given our schools are blue ribbon, and a key differentiator over other communities, one could argue we're getting value from that.
The rest goes to Metro Sewer, the State, and then some comes back from the county on sales tax credits. So, all in, the city itself takes about 0.7% of my home per year. Though not seeming much (my financial advisor takes more) this still feels like "death by a thousand cuts" with each area of government taking a cut. For that reason, I feel each decision we make needs to have a clear need (and a question of if we're getting the best value for the cost) or a long-term positive return on investment.