Friday, April 13, 2007

Walworth is the new Waukesha

Walworth County has surpassed Waukesha County as southeastern Wisconsin’s wealthiest county in terms of per-capita property value. According to the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum’s latest property value report, Walworth County’s 2006 per-capita property value is $132,391, compared to $130,348 for Waukesha County. Its per-capita property value increased 12.8% from 2005-2006, the highest among the seven counties that comprise southeastern Wisconsin.

“Walworth is an emerging story in our region and needs to be respected as one of its key players,” says Forum President Jeff Browne.

Waukesha County per-capita property value increased 8.2%; Milwaukee County’s increased 12.5%, second to Walworth County.

During the same period, the city of Milwaukee’s overall tax base grew 15.1% in 2006, the largest increase for the city since 1992. “Starting in 2003, when the city of Milwaukee’s one-year increases began to accelerate, the region’s increases surpassed the state and for the second consecutive year, the city’s increase was greater than both the region and the state,” says Browne. “You can make the case that when the city does well, the rest of region follows suit and does well also. The city essentially fuels the region.”

Walworth County had the largest overall tax-base growth, 14.2%, in the region from 2005 to 2006. It also had the highest growth among the seven counties in residential and manufacturing tax bases. Waukesha County, on the other hand, grew much slower last year. Its overall tax base increased only 8.9%, sixth among the region’s seven counties. “Apparently a certain level of wealth is reached and things tend to slow down a bit, particularly in a region that is only holding its own economically,” says Browne. “Ozaukee County another relatively wealthy county in the region had the slowest tax-base growth in southeastern Wisconsin, at 7.3%.”

Milwaukee County’s total tax base – which grew 12.2% in 2006, second to Walworth – far surpassed other counties in the region in value. Its overall tax base was $63.6 billion; Waukesha County was next highest at $49.5 billion, followed by Racine at $14.8 billion.

The tax base for all of southeastern Wisconsin grew 10.7% from 2005 to 2006, to $178.3 billion. The state grew 9.6%.

The Forum report looked at three primary categories of property value: residential, commercial, and manufacturing. Those categories comprise the greatest portion of the tax base. Residential and commercial property made up 94% of the region’s total tax base. Manufacturing accounted for 2.5% of the tax base.

Related material:
Table 1: 2006 equalized property values
Table 2: 2006 per-capita property values

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