PESHTIGO, Wis. (WFRV) – Taxes are up in Peshtigo and people aren’t happy.

“I figured somebody had done a mistake somewhere, I’d like to find out what happened because our taxes were up 25 percent from last year,” said Peshtigo resident Art Babcock.

“The initial reaction was ‘oh God this can’t be right who made the mistake’,” said Peshtigo resident Stan Nagolski.

Many residents told Local Five News that they attribute the higher taxes to a Peshtigo Public School referendum that passed in November. District officials had said the referendum would only cost taxpayers $29 per $100,000 of property value.

When residents looked at their tax forms, they saw numbers that looked much higher than that and blamed school district officials for deceiving them about the actual cost of the referendum.

Peshtigo Mayor Cathi Malke also isn’t happy. She showed us her tax forms and said that she’s paying over $1,000 in taxes to the public school.

She says some of her constituents are desperate after seeing high numbers on their tax forms.

“Her additional tax burden was $441 and I’ll never forget that because she became teary eyes and she says how am I going to pay for that,” said Malke. “She said we’re going to have to do without essentials and that just broke my heart.”

Malke and dozens of others flocked to a school board meeting on Wednesday night to voice their concerns.

Several residents spoke during the public comment period, a few even asking for school board members and the superintendent to lose their jobs over this. Others wanted the school board to consider reversing the results of the referendum.

Others expressed support for the district.

“Dr. Patrick Rau (Peshtigo School District superintendent) I’ve had lots of talks with him in difficult situations and he’s always had the most integrity and it’s difficult for me to have people just assume the worse (that he deceived the public with the referendum),” said Peshtigo resident Jay Williams.

After the public comment period, Dr. Rau delivered a 30-minute presentation.. He said taxes are up because property values throughout the district have increased between 2021 and 2022. He said he thinks the school district did a good job of communicating with the public about the details and implications of the referendum.

Many at the meeting didn’t agree with Rau’s assessment.

“I don’t think the referendum would have got passed without that misinformation being given to the taxpayers,” said Nagolski.

Local Five News asked Rau for an interview after the meeting concluded but he declined to comment.