If you had to guess, what would you think all the taxable property in Door County is worth?

Your challenge would be to tally the dollar worth of everything: Add up the value of every square inch of shore property, farmland, residential yards, shops, parking lots – all of it from the “Welcome to Door County” signs at the Kewaunee County line to Rock Island.

We’re not done yet. 

Next calculate the value of every house, every barn, every retail store, industry site, all the warehouses. Then estimate the value of boats in the harbors that are owned by businesses. The tools and machinery owned by service contractors have to be counted as well.

What do you think?

Actually, relax! 

Tabulating is done every year by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Not just for Door County. All 72 Wisconsin counties are examined every year. State officials look at every real estate transaction, compare the cost of construction of new buildings and additions to existing homes, farms, contractors, businesses and more, to determine to the nearest dollar what everything is worth. 

The state sets Jan. 1 as the benchmark. What a land parcel was estimated to be worth on the first day of the year is the value the state uses.

By mid-August, all the numbers have been crunched, then posted on the agency’s website.

Door County administrator Ken Pabich and county finance director Steve Wipperfurth speak to county supervisors and department heads during a County Board of Supervisors retreat on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 at The Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor. Photo by Andrew Phillips.

Every local government official – county, city, village, town, and school board member – pays close attention to the numbers for their communities. Their budgets for the coming calendar year, 2023, which are developed beginning this month and finalized in November, are built on the numbers from the state.

The various boards use the equalized values in determining their local budgets and taxes.

The 2022 estimated value of all Door County real estate is $10,079,363,600: Ten billion, 79 million, 363 thousand, six hundred dollars.

The state numbers show the value of everything in the county rose about $1.5 billion – $1,522,369,000, to be exact – from Jan. 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022, an 18 percent increase.

At a Door County Board of Supervisors retreat last week, county administrator Ken Pabich said he and county finance director Steve Wipperfurth were shocked that the county’s value total increased by more than $1 billion.

“When we got the equalized value for this year, both Steve and I thought it was a mistake,” Pabich told supervisors.

Pabich and Wipperfurth said their understanding was that the large increase in the state’s estimates this year was intended in part to correct for a lower valuation two years ago.

“When we got the equalized value for this year, both Steve and I thought it was a mistake.”

Ken Pabich, Door County Administrator

All of the properties in each of three communities in Door County exceed $1 billion: The City of Sturgeon Bay and the Towns of Gibraltar and Liberty Grove.

The Town of Liberty Grove, the highest-valued municipality at more than $1.3 billion, also had the largest percent increase in value at 28 percent, rising by more than $283 million.

The Village of Forestville has a bit more than $27 million in combined value, the least costly community in the county.

The state pinpoints what is likely the cost to build or buy a structure and the cost of the land on which to build it.

However, for agricultural properties, the state values what can be grown on the land in putting together estimates each year.

What follows is an alphabetical list (grouped by towns, villages and cities) of Door County’s municipalities, including their values last year, their values this year and the percent differences.

The total equalized value of all property in Kewaunee County amounts to $2,256,737,000, or two and a quarter billion dollars, roughly a quarter of the value of Door County. It’s up $326,903,300 from last year, a 17 percent increase.

Brown County’s estimated value this year is $30,127,329,900 (that’s $30 billion). The state estimate indicates an increase of just under $3.5 billion from last year, a 13 percent increase.

Finally, the state estimate for the whole state of Wisconsin is about three quarters of a trillion dollars: $745,161,539,100. And that’s about $91 billion more than last year, a 14 percent increase.

Andrew Phillips contributed reporting.