Milwaukee has a plan to help thousands of residents who are late paying their property taxes. This week, the city mailed notices to 15,000 residents that include a flier directing them to financial counselors at a nonprofit agency that is certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mayor Tom Barrett urged homeowners on Wednesday not to ignore this mailing. “We’re actually trying to help,” Barrett said.
One way Milwaukee is addressing tax delinquency is through it’s Strong Homes Loan Program, which offers partially forgivable loans for emergency and essential home repairs.
The city’s website states:
Don’t lose your home through tax foreclosure due to delinquent property taxes!
Property taxes are not the same as other debt. The City of Milwaukee cannot negotiate the tax amounts owed or waive interest and penalty charges. Due dates are non-negotiable. The City of Milwaukee does not want to take your home.
The helping hand comes at a time when, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “[a] provision in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would shift property assessment duties from most municipalities to counties, upending the status quo in the state.” An investigative report by the newspaper uncovered uneven property tax assessments across Wisconsin, with “20% or more of residential taxes … being paid by the wrong people.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.