The growth is finally slowing, and it will show in the City of Verona’s budget this year.
While Verona’s 4 percent net new construction – the number the state uses to determine a city’s ability to increase its tax levy – was still higher than the county average (3 percent), it was tame by Verona standards.
The past four years, Verona had averaged nearly 10 percent growth in that number per year, owed partially to Epic’s continued construction, which has reached at least a temporary pause.
With continued increases in home values, the city’s equalized value – ostensibly the market rate, not necessarily what’s on assessments – has reached $2.9 billion, nearly tied with next-door neighbor Fitchburg.
That’s courtesy of an overall growth in that equalized value of 9 percent, according to the state’s equalized values statement, published Aug. 15, which is a bit slower than the past four years’ average of 12 percent. Existing residential buildings, which account for $1.1 billion in the city, increased by 5 percent in value, and commercial buildings, which account for $1.4 billion, increased in value by 7 percent.
A decade ago, residential property accounted for nearly twice as much – $844 million – as commercial property, according to state Department of Revenue documents. The year Epic began building here, 2002, residential property accounted for four times the value of commercial property here, at $461 million. The city’s total value that year was $612 million.
That matches with decisions city leaders made about two decades ago to balance the city’s economy so it would not rely so much on residential property taxes. And this year, new construction of commercial buildings continued to nearly double that of residential, at $63 million, according to the values report.
The modest growth rate could mean the city’s budget changes much less this year than it has since the effects of the recession died out. The last three budgets each added several hundred thousands of dollars, mostly in new staff, all while decreasing taxes.
However, a 4 percent increase in the levy would still provide around $500,000 more in new tax revenue, and other variables in the budget have yet to be calculated.