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Posted on: July 3, 2017

UWSP Student Study Compares Tax Revenue & Residential Revenue Generation

A study by UWSP undergraduate student Yoon Bin Bae shows the urban sprawl trends that are evident in the City of Stevens Point, and takes a look at the growth and decline of proportional revenue generated by each City aldermanic district since 2001.

Yoon, a Natural Resource Planning major with minors in Geography and Natural Resource Management at UW-Stevens Point, spent nine months researching tax revenue trends of parcels in Portage County and the City of Stevens Point under the advisement of Christine Koeller, GIS Faculty Associate, and Dr. Ismaila Odogba, Associate Professor of Geography.

According to Koeller, "Property tax revenue pays for public goods and services such as police protection, fire protection, education, transportation infrastructure, parks, libraries, and more. Other studies have shown that the per-capita cost of these goods and services increases as population density decreases, leading to costlier rural suburbs when compared to denser urban areas."

"Yoon’s research," she said, "shows Portage County’s tax revenue growth and loss dating back to 2001 when tax revenues are adjusted for inflation. Since 2001, Portage County’s Planning and Zoning Land Information office has recorded tax revenue for each parcel of land in the county in a digital, spatial format that can be mapped using geographic information systems (GIS) technologies."

Jeff Hartman, Portage County’s GIS Coordinator, oversees the data management and distribution of countywide parcel data, and was able to provide UW-Stevens Point with tax revenue data for each year from 2001 to 2015.  

"Yoon standardized each parcel’s revenue on a per-acre basis, and then calculated each parcel’s proportional revenue per acre so comparisons could be made between 2001, 2007, and 2015," Koeller said. "Calculating the proportion of revenue per acre was used to compare different time periods without needing to adjust for inflation or varying tax rates between years. The resulting 2D and 3D map visuals show that smaller, more densely developed parcels near the center of Stevens Point earn more tax revenue than larger, sprawled out parcels in suburban areas when considering the amount of land each parcel consumes."  

So how does each aldermanic district contribute to the City of Stevens Point’s tax revenue base each year? To answer this question, Yoon and her advisors analyzed land use and parcel data provided by Kyle Kearns, Associate Planner for the Community and Economic Development Department at the City of Stevens Point.

The results show that the average single-family home tax revenues in suburban areas (such as districts 6, 8, 10, and 11) are significantly lower than average single-family home tax revenues near the city center. A less expensive home that sits on a quarter-acre in downtown Stevens Point can generate more revenue per acre than a more expensive suburban house sitting on a half acre.

"The City receives a significantly larger amount of revenue from single-family residential parcels in Districts 1, 2, and 3 than it does from suburban districts, when considering the amount of land these homes consume in each district," Koeller said.  

"This research calls on City alderpersons to consider the costs of urban sprawl when making future decisions about land use development. The City plans to update their Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code in 2018, so now is an ideal time to have this information and start a conversation about updating zoning ordinances that date back as far as 1979, when the true costs of urban sprawl were less known. The current zoning code requires what some would consider to be outdated street and yard setback distances, excessive parking requirements, restrictive lot area and density requirements, and structure height limitations that prohibit dense, urban developments from being approved," she said. 

In the newest episode of "Talking Point with Mayor Mike," Mayor Wiza, Christine Koeller, Dr. Ismaila, and Yoon Bin Bae discuss Yoon's study.

Talking Point can be seen on Community TV, channel 984 on Charter Spectrum TV, at the following times:
  • Wednesdays at 7:00 am and 4:00 pm
  • Thursdays at 4:30 pm and 8:30 pm
  • Fridays at 7:00 am and 6:00 pm
  • Saturdays at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm 
  • Mondays at 12:00 Noon
  • Tuesdays at 4:30 pm and 10:00 pm
Talking Point can be heard on WSNP-LP, 105.9 FM radio, at these times:
  • Wednesdays at 7:00 am and 4:00 pm
  • Thursdays at 4:30 pm and 8:30 pm
  • Fridays at 7:00 am
  • Mondays at 12:00 Noon
  • Tuesdays at 4:30 pm and 10:00 pm
The program can also be seen on the City's website in the Video Archives and on the City's YouTube channel. 

See a Presentation of the Study's Findings (pdf
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