City of

District 15

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Contact Information

Home Address:

4117 Major Ave.
Madison , WI 53716

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Ahrens’ Updates

Assessments, Committee Appointments and Legal Fees

April 24, 2017 5:13 PM


Home Assessment Blow-out!

Hopefully, you've calmed down after reading the postcard from the City Assessor you received last weekend. Many homeowners got the news that their assessment had shot up 10%-15%. Almost everyone had the same reaction: How can this be? Most homes had no improvements and their neighbors were the same as the previous year.

Assessments are sometimes based on home improvements but are usually established by comparing the price of homes sold in the previous year. If sale prices averaged 10% above their assessed value in a specific area, then it will usually result in an increase in assessed value in all homes by that amount. You may recall that not so long ago, 2009-2013, home values fell about 4% over that period. Many people feared that their most important asset was sinking in value.

The relevant question is, "If my assessment increased 10% will my taxes increase by the same amount?" Probably not, but it will go up a lot.

You'll note in the table below that the assessed value of homes across the city increased by 6%. If our tax rate did not change, city revenue would increase by 6%. That's twice as much as any increase in the last 10 years and would not be allowed by state law.

  Lake Edge Eastmorland Hwy.151/51/30 City Wide
2014 0 2 4 3
% Change in Home Values
2015              0                 3                       2              3.5
2016             2                4                      4             3.5
2017             6              10                      9              6

I think the tax rate will decline by about 3%. So if the city tax rate is about $9.50 per $1000 in value, it would fall to about $9.20.

The bad news for those with a double-digit increase in assessment is that a lower tax rate will only reduce some of the pain. Homeowners with a 10% increase are likely to have a 7% increase in their taxes.

Of course, I am referring only to city taxes. The majority of our property taxes supports schools, about one- third goes to the city and the remainder to Dane County and MATC.


Imagine Madison: It's expected that the city's population will grow by about 60,000 over the next 25 years. However, the borders of the city will stay the same. Where should increased development take place? How much space should be allocated for public uses such as parks, new housing, etc? "Imagine Madison" is the city-wide effort to get the residents' opinion on the future development of the city. The Imagine Madison Phase 2 community meetings begin next week.  You can check out all the details on the event pages on Facebook and our website. The meetings will be held at:

         Tuesday, April 25 at Warner Park Community Recreation Center
         Thursday, April 27 at Cherokee Heights Middle School
         Monday, May 1 at Central Library
         Wednesday, May 3 at La Follette High School

All four meetings will have identical schedules:

    6:00-6:30 PM      Open House

    6:30-7:45 PM      Presentation and Small Group Activities

 Presentations and small group activities will cover two main topics:

    Future Land Use Map: How should the city grow and change?

    Strategies: What steps should we take to achieve our shared community goals?


City Jobs: The Streets Division will be hiring ten people to fill retirements for the position of Street Machine Operator. These employees collect recycling and refuse as well as brush and leaves. Also, quite importantly, these folks are responsible for snow removal.

Job applications must be completed by May 29th.

 Here's a link to the job posting:

New Term, Committee Appointments: Starting my third term on the Common Council, I was appointed to the same committees as my previous term. It takes some time to learn the fundamentals of the operations of departments and organizations. Participating on the same committees has given me an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of many of the issues. The committees on which I serve are:

Transit and Parking Commission: Oversees the Madison Parking Utility (off-street and on-street parking) and Madison Metro. This includes setting the parking fees, building new parking structures and reconstruction of our existing ramps.

Community Action Coalition of SC Wisconsin: This is the largest- and oldest- anti-poverty organization in the region. It provides housing and re-housing services, has a free clothing "store" and provides much of the food for area food pantries. For some reason, it's a little known and unsung advocate for poor residents.

Downtown Coordinating Committee: I'm newly appointed to this committee. It oversees the services for the greater downtown area as well as discusses some of the issues that are unique to the area.

Water Utility Board: This is the governing body of the Water Utility. We oversee Utility policies, rate-setting and construction.

Sustainable Madison Committee: This 18-member committee addresses many of the environmental issues, both current and in the future, that are confronting our city and region. Recently, it initiated the zero-carbon resolution, enacted by the city.

Reimbursement of Chief Koval's Legal Bills: The major issue for the next meeting of Council concerns the reimbursement of the legal fees ($22,000) incurred by Police Chief Koval. The Chief retained lawyers to defend him against a complaint in which he was accused of unprofessional behavior. He did not contest that his behavior was unprofessional and apologized for it.

The complaint went before the Police and Fire Commission (PFC) which agreed that he committed these unprofessional acts but then dismissed the charges against him.

The city's policy is that it will pay the legal fees for police officers when they "prevail" in court or PFC cases. The decision of the PFC is contradictory and gave the Council little guidance as to whether or not the Chief "prevailed" despite the fact that it is well-aware of the importance of the term, "prevail."

We requested further clarification from the PFC but it is possible that they will simply say, "Read our decision."

It has been and continues to be an honor to serve as your representative on the Comon Council. If you have any questions or concerns about city services or policies, please contact me at or at 334-1156.

Positively Eastside,


Tags: assessment

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