Homeowners learn drop in property tax bills was a mistake

SHOREWOOD (WITI) -- Shorewood homeowners thought they caught a break. Property tax bills were hundreds of dollars less than expected -- but it turned out to be the result of a big error!

Lucinda Weston's reaction when she opened her property tax bill was anything from typical.

"I thought 'great!' It's a few hundred dollars less than I thought it would be. I was just surprised it hadn't gone up as much as I expected," Weston said.

The surprise turned to disappointment when homeowners learned it was a mistake.

The Shorewood Village Manager says it was a data entry error. A county sales tax was accidentally entered twice -- giving the average homeowner a break of about $500.

The village printed more than 4,000 bills last week -- catching the error a day later.

"I've been doing this for 27 years. My 27th tax cycle. Never has this occurred. We made a mistake," Village Manager Chris Swartz said.

Homeowners are now getting notices telling them about that mistake -- and new bills should arrive later this week.

Some showed up to the Village Hall on Tuesday to get the property tax payment out of the way.

"I came in today to do some business and was thinking the worst, but I was pleasantly surprised. Still below last year's taxes," Tim Garland said.

The village says it continues to work to correct the error, and will have a financial advisor review the math in the future.

"When you make a mistake, you're judged on that, but you're also judged on how you fix it," Swartz said.

Homeowners are both frustrated and forgiving, hopeful the mistake will not be repeated.

"It's not like it makes me angry. It's just that the village government must be pretty inept," Weston said.

The mistake cost the village about $4,000 -- mostly mailing fees.

The Village Manager says the average homeowner will see a one percent break on their property tax bills, which comes out to about $100.